Leaders and members of several organizations in South Philadelphia and around Greater Philadelphia met recently at the Mummers Museum, 1102 S. Second St., for the first Neighborhood Leadership Conference.
“It’s a conversation between and among people who are trying to do good for the community,” host Ed Kirlin said.
Kirlin, a member of the Pennsport Civic Association, said he created this event in hopes of connecting different community groups and leaders together. The Pennsport Association encompasses the area between Snyder to Washington Avenues and Fourth Stret to Delaware Avenue.
“There’s an awful lot of groups and organizations and individuals who are the good guys of the community,” Kirlin said. “And unfortunately, they don’t know each other.”
South Philadelphia itself is compromised of several areas once separate municipalities outside City of Philadelphia boundaries until the Consolidation Act of 1854.
Jess Gould, president of the West Passyunk Association, attended the all-day event hoping to reach out to other community members and to gain ideas on how to run her organization as its recently elected president.
“West Passyunk Neighbors Association has been forgotten about and I want to make it a strong part of the community. I’m just not sure how to do so,” Gould said.
While hearing others introduce their organizations and the problems they are facing, Gould took note of the solutions provided by other members and by Tish Manno, standards for excellence officer at the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations.
Manno’s presentation covered the practices of standards and ethics that are associated with and expected of nonprofit organizations.
“Philadelphia has over a thousand nonprofit organizations but there are few actually recognized by this standard of excellence,” Manno said during her presentation.
Implementing standards would help organizations in areas of finance and legal accountability. Issues concerning by-laws, fundraising and annual budgets would also be guided by the standards.
“The evolution of these community groups has not allowed for transparency or accountability. Instead, they are focused on solving problems in the area,” Manno said. ” It warms my heart to see that but it should be done the proper way.”
Jason Mason, who has lived in South Philadelphia for 32 years, is eager to make changes around his Passyunk Square neighborhood. His interest in change led him to reach out to Gould before the end of the conference.
“Please add me to your email list and let me know of any events,” Mason said, handing Gould his phone number and email.
“It is really a mixing of different people who are all hoping to make a difference and do it the right way – following these standards – that make a change in the community,” Mason said.