Hunting Park in North Philadelphia offers many places for its community members to come together. These places inspire growth in the community and keep the lights on to promote a positive environment. Here are five places in Hunting Park that uplift members of the community.
Built in 2007, originally as a building for the Philadelphia Police Athletic League, the Lenfest Center was founded by media entrepreneur and philanthropist Chase Lenfest. Since its inception, the center has provided an after-school sanctuary keeping kids in Hunting Park off of the streets.
“The kids that drop by can get a free meal, have recreation time, have access to books, have access to computers and to other opportunities here,” said Lenfest Center education coordinator Emilia Autin-Hefner. “A lot of parents work until 6-7 p.m., so being a safe place where kids can come is important to us.”
On the second floor of the Lenfest Center is SquashSmarts, a non-profit program, which uses the game of squash and academics to keep kids healthy and in school. They serve kids from 6th-12th grade, provide mentorship and provide guidance in helping the students reach their goals.
“The students are working hard to succeed and go to college,” said SquashSmarts director of high school academics Alix Cummin. “The family support we try to develop here through our long-term relationships speaks to the parents’ commitment to their children’s progress in life skills and educational goals and I think that speaks value to this community.”
One of the first community buildings you see in Hunting Park when you get off of the subway is the Sacred Heart Home located on W. Hunting Park Avenue.
The home founded in 1930 by the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne dedicates itself to providing care to people with incurable cancers who are unable to pay for care. The sisters of the home provide tender loving care for patients to help alleviate their worries.
Just like the Lenfest Center and SquashSmarts, the Hunting Park Recreation Center provides a place of sport and safety for members of the community. The recreation area sits on 10 acres and has a pool, soccer court, 11 basketball courts, a track and four baseball fields.
“The recreation center is a beacon of hope in the Hunting Park Community,” said lifelong Hunting Park resident and Hunting Park United president Leroy Fisher. “We can engage with the children and share some good values with the kids living in the area, who without the volunteers we have, wouldn’t have any structure.”
One of the most important places in Hunting Park takes up a small area on the corner of N. Delhi Street. The Hunting Park Neighborhood Advisory Committee promotes the Hunting Park area through education, housing and social welfare without removing residents.
The program’s main goals are to improve the character and quality of community members lives. The Hunting Park NAC boosts the community by getting people involved in block cleanups and community programming.
-Text and images by Hannah McComsey and Dalton Balthaser.