The Providence Center has been joining a host of other organizations in the past several weeks to clean up Fairhill Square as part of Philadelphia’s “Love Your Park” campaign.
“We’re watching out for the park, trying to make sure it stays clean and safe for our kids and families to play in,” said David Chiles, the executive director of the Providence Center.
The group worked alongside volunteers from the area as well as from Rosemont College to pick up trash in Fairhill Square and rake leaves across its grounds.
The Providence Center is a community-based organization, which has been active in Fairhill since 1993. The Sisters of the Holy Child founded the center to continue its outreach into the Fairhill community after its St. Edward parish and school closed. Today, it focuses on youth empowerment, adult education and community-building projects in Fairhill and West Kensington. The programs it offers include homework clubs and summer camps for kids and computer literacy and English classes for adults.
However, in the past several years the group has worked extensively on revitalizing Fairhill Square so it can be an asset to the community to be shared and enjoyed.
Tony Beltram lives and works across the street from Fairhill Square as the site manager for Lehigh Park Apartments and also sits on the board of the Fairhill Planning Committee. He said he’s seen noticeable improvement in the area since he moved in three years ago.
“Before this restoration happened this park was basically off-limits to residents because they were afraid to come in here,” he said. “But ever since the restoration started to come around, we’ve been coming together and getting people to come out of their shells and get out and help us clean. Now we try to keep outsiders out of the park, who try to come in and sell drugs and commit crimes, to make it a little more safer for our community to come in here and share the park.”
Chiles said he’s also seen the effect of Fairhill Square’s revitalization toward the betterment of his own Providence Center.
“Now, we’re able to bring kids from our after-school program out into the park and we don’t have to worry about them running into some bad elements,” he said. “Today, we use Fairhill Square to play games, have book fairs and holiday festivals. Every afternoon, I look over and I see kids playing in the playground and families using the space, so I think it’s become a really nice place for neighbors here.”