Members of AmeriCorps NCCC and volunteers from Friends of Vernon Park had no problem rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty for a good cause. They pulled up weeds, raked leaves, cleaned out gutters and picked up trash last week around the park. This partnership was established with the common goal of improving the park’s condition and takes place every other Wednesday. Dried-up dirt patches were turned into budding flowerbeds. A rain garden was installed that will help prevent the sewer systems from overflowing and polluting the waterways.
Located along the bustling stretch of Germantown Avenue, Vernon Park has been a work in progress over the years. There was a noticeable decline in the up keep of the park. This led the Friends of Vernon Park to step in and make a change.
Friends of Vernon Park is a non-profit volunteer organization comprised of residents who assist with the maintenance and fund raising activities that benefit park.
The group’s secretary, Sue Finch, said she believes the park is changing for the better. “Despite low funding the city has been really responsive to parks lately,” Finch said. “We are coming along.”
In 2011 Friends of Vernon Park worked with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, which led to the partnership with AmeriCorps organization.
Finch is thrilled to work with AmeriCorps NCCC. “They have a lot to offer us and you really need to have younger people help out.”
AmeriCorps NCCC team leader Davey Parziale has seen firsthand how the organization benefits from the experience of this partnership. “A lot of the reason why [members] are still in the program is because of their dedication to service and the community work that were doing. It’s a growing experience,” Parziale said.
In addition to the cleanup of the park, Friends of Vernon Park plans to sell flowers in the future to raise money for the organization.