Local youth from West and Southwest Philadelphia joined with community organizers and residents to participate in the 5th annual Philadelphia Spring Cleaning, held on Saturday, April 14.
During the city-wide clean up effort, members of the Southwest Community Advisory Group (SWCAG), Youth Outreach Adolescent Community Awareness Program (YOACAP) and residents of the Outley House cleaned lots, painted street curbs, mowed lawns in empty lots and picked up debris on the 6000 block of Trinity street in Southwest Philadelphia.
“We’re participating in the 5th annual spring cleanup sponsored by Mayor Michael Nutter,” said Marsha Wall, Trinity Street block captain and president of SWCAG. “We have been a part of this process for all five years.”
Wall, who has been block captain for 17 years, said residents of Trinity Street have always tried to support and assist one another.
“A lot of the young people who came out are from YOACAP and they’re about community service and giving back to their community,” she said. “Plus we have the block residents, young people ages 3–63, so we are working together.”
YOACAP Executive Director Woody Beale, was on hand leading the youth by way of personal example when he showed up with his lawn mower to cut the overgrown grass in an empty lot.
“I’m just out here to try to help,” Beale said. “You know, when you’re trying to beautify a block it takes more than one person, so you have to have volunteers. I’m just out here doing my part and I’ll be out here for a little bit doing whatever I can.”
The warm, spring-like weather on Saturday brought out many volunteers.
“People are out here,” Beale said. “I see people painting the side walk, sweeping up, weed whacking; so people are doing things trying to get the block right and I see it all over the city, it’s not just here.”
Christina Hunter-Bond, 15, a member of the YOACAP Youth Council, enjoyed the outing.
“I feel good [volunteering],” she said. “I feel like I’m giving back to my community. It helps me to stay off the streets and allows me to tell my friends about it and help them.”
This sentiment was echoed by A’minah Henderson, 16, a member of YOACAP since 2010.
“It [YOACAP] involved the youth in positive activities, giving back to their community, keeping them positively involved and helping to do tings to keep us out of the streets doing negative things,” she said.
Painting street curbs on a Saturday morning might not be the ideal activity of most youngsters but for one, Tychan Peebles, 10, an aspiring artist and Trinity Street resident, it was fun.
“It feels good [volunteering to paint] because I want to be an artist when I grow up, and because it’s fun to paint,” he said.