For our July event, Volunteering Untapped PHL went big in celebration of our first birthday: two events, two amazing non-profit partners, dozens of enthusiastic volunteers, and one cake-filled birthday bash.
For the past year, VU PHL has been working to “untap” resources and volunteer opportunities in Philadelphia for young professionals who are passionate about their community and looking for ways to get involved. We have weeded, planted, cleaned, organized, crafted, harvested, and painted our way through 16 non-profits, drank countless a respectable amount of beer, and formed numerous friendships and connections along the way, all while exploring the city that we love.
Like most birthdays, we spent our first reflecting on our growth and success in year one, while continuing to look forward to bigger and better things to come. Because of this, it was only appropriate that we volunteered with Mill Creek Urban Farm, a familiar face from our June 2017 event, as well as Malcolm X Park, a brand new, first-time partner.
MILL CREEK URBAN FARM
Mill Creek Urban Farm is an educational farm and environmental education center located in West Philadelphia. They are dedicated to improving local access to fresh, chemical-free produce at low cost for the immediate Mill Creek community and surrounding neighborhoods.
At Mill Creek, it was easy to forget we were in the middle of the city as volunteers tended to the growing crops, weeding and picking a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (blackberries, kale, and carrots, to name a few!) To prepare for that day’s market, our volunteers washed and inventoried the harvest, and a few enterprising volunteers even manned the sales table once the farm was open for business. Meanwhile, weeding continued as a larger team effort on the outside of the fenced perimeter. Since Mill Creek sits in the middle of a residential area, neighbors want to ensure a tidy appearance. Volunteers from around Philadelphia are a big help to the staff in this way, since they have their hands full caring for the garden itself.
MALCOLM X PARK
Just over a mile away, our other group of volunteers was gathered at Malcolm X Park, which is a six-acre site in West Philadelphia that is home to more than 100 towering oaks, two elaborate children’s play areas, and dozens of comfortable benches and tables for relaxing and meeting to build community within the neighborhood. The park is supported in part by the Friends of Malcolm X Park, which is a group of volunteers committed to bringing entertaining programming and family-friendly events to the site. The president of the Friends’ Group for 32 years, Mr. Greg, was there to chat with VU PHL and share some interesting details about the most utilized park in Philadelphia.
We spent the morning beautifying the park by picking up trash, sweeping sidewalks, and trimming hedges. As we worked, we were thrilled at the number of park visitors who stopped to say thank you. Maintaining the park’s aesthetic appeal is important in no small part due to the estimated 125 events that will be held there this year alone, bringing together people from all over the city for occasions ranging from weddings and graduation parties to concerts and plays.
After a morning spent working hard in the 90+ degree heat, our two groups of volunteers were more than ready to kick back in the shade with a cold drink. The kind folks at the PHS uCity Square Pop Up Garden opened their doors early for us, where we were greeted by an urban orchard in the heart of University City.
In true birthday fashion, our volunteers enjoyed free snacks, games, and of course, birthday cake. To complete the festivities, we couldn’t forget to also celebrate our amazing non-profit partners. Throughout the afternoon, volunteers had an opportunity to vote for the non-profit of their choice to receive a special birthday gift. While we could never really choose a favorite, Philadelphia Community Corps came out on top! Our top three partners will receive a generous gift from Volunteering Untapped PHL based on their place in the voting.