Approximately 30 people gathered inside the Canaan Baptist Church, located at 5430 Pulaski Ave., this week to hear from five guest speakers at a community meeting organized by Northwest Neighbors of Germantown’s Lisa Hopkins.
Hopkins, NWNG’s Community Organizer, initiated the community meeting by reemphasizing the organization’s goals as well as giving the attendees an overview of the material to be covered in the meeting.
Among the community meeting’s guest speakers were Shanetta Payne and Jim Coburn of Philadelphia’s own branch of Rebuilding Together, a national organization with over 200 locations. Their mission is to provide low-income homeowners with home repairs anywhere from roofs to plumbing but stressed that they did not have the means to fix any structural issues.
“We need that local connection,” Payne said.
Because of the organizations’ budget constraint, the organization works with block captains. These are volunteers who serve as a clean-up coordinator to keep certain blocks clean and safe and ensure applications to Rebuilding Together are properly submitted.
Jon Musselman of Habitat for Humanity spoke next, highlighting Germantown’s main problem of “de-investment.” He discussed home ownership in terms of building an individual’s own future.
“We are committed to this neighborhood—particularly [the] Queen Lane site,” Musselman told attendees.
Joseph Miranda, Clean Block Officer of Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee, held the stage longer than any of the other guest speakers of the evening. The engaged audience had a plethora of questions to ask Miranda about Germantown’s cleanliness and inquiries on how to properly dispose of garbage.
Community members of Germantown, however, seemed to be most concerned with the state of Potter’s Field, a historical African-American burial ground, and drug dealers.
Hopkins added at the culmination of the meeting that an excavation ordered by federal law is due to take place from April 5 to May 17. The excavation, along with written testimonials of families that have documentation of relatives buried there, will determine the fate of Potter’s Field from becoming a new apartment complex or a memorial.
- Lt. Charles Jackson, head of Philadelphia’s Narcotics Force in the 39th District, discussed how his 12-manned team focuses on inside drug sales and needs community input to help bust dealers.
“We are only as good as you guys are as far as information,” Jackson said.
When asked by one Germantown resident if Jackson can be trusted by the neighborhood, the officer did his best to leave them with no doubt.
“If anyone gives me viable information to act on,” Jackson said, “I will act.”
NWNG host meetings on the fourth Monday of each month at Canaan Baptist Church.