For nearly two years, Marc Reason, 47, has been president of the Overbrook Park Civic Association. Reason doesn’t only work as the president of the OPCA, he is a teacher at the Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School, head of a local community basketball league as well as a youth group leader in his church. Besides being a beacon of information for the community, Reason and his group participate in multiple monthly outreach programs. Newly painted railings, which were once a chipped up mess, lead to the OPCA community center in the heart of Rose Playground, located just off 75th Street and Lansdowne Avenue, near Haverford Avenue. Inside the building, there is an open area to set up tables and chairs for meetings, birthdays and graduation parties. Reason explained what being the president of the OPCA entails and how this group remains an active member of the West Philadelphia community.
What does the Overbrook Park Civic Association do in the community?
Our primary function is to, number one, keep the community informed about events and things that are going on in the community. That’s zoning, nuisance and business. We also do beautification; we plant flowers and clean up the area regularly. We do free movie nights and Community Day, where we feed the neighbors and have music, games and give out free book bags to the kids for school. Lastly, we act as a liaison between Councilman (Curtis) Jones’ office and also other city officials in the community. A lot of times, the information comes to us and we disseminate it through the community.
How would you explain to others what this community is like?
Our community is Overbrook Park, even though we are a part of West Philadelphia. We are a middle class neighborhood. Roughly 4,000 to 5,000 people live here. It’s a mixture of maybe 60/40 homeowners to renters. Most of our community is a working class community. The community is very engaged. When things happen, our community is really willing to come out and support.
How has the OPCA made a difference in the community?
A couple of months ago, we were having problems with the traffic lights down the hill from Rose Park. The city did a study taking the traffic lights out, and all the traffic was rushing down the hill. We stayed on it, had the news here, had councilmen out here, we even had Congressman Bob Brady come out. We got it changed, because if there’s one thing they know about this community outside of everything else, is that we vote. A lot of times, candidates don’t really have to canvass here because we vote in this neighborhood.
What are some challenges that face the OPCA?
Our biggest challenge is that we still are not able to reach all the residents. I wish we could get a bigger proportion to come out. Our goal this year is to increase membership and increase engagement. The more people that are engaged and involved I think the less challenges we will have.
What made you want to become a leader in the community?
I love teaching. I’ve been teaching now for 16 years. You can’t have a civic association without a president, and the former president did about three terms, and you only really need to do one term. Since I came to the meetings and was able to get information for my family, I ran unopposed and took over the civic association because we need this here; it’s very vital to the community.
– Text and images by Kevin Glasson and E.J. Smith