Eva Gaymon, a long-standing resident of the 1800 block of Norris Street, said her neighborhood has changed a lot over the years. She has been a resident of the neighborhood for 55 years. Her children and grandchildren were raised in the same house she has lived in all of those years.
“There are no kids or [elderly] living here anymore,” Gaymon said.
She said that Temple parties and other weekend activities contribute to the trash in the area, although she added “the parties don’t bother me really – I was young once too.”
Adopt-a-Block is one of Temple Student Government’s service initiatives. For the program, now in its second school year, organizations are recruited to clean a designated block near Main Campus once a month.
“It’s a day where Temple dedicates a day to beautify and build a relationship with the North Philadelphia neighborhoods,” Aaliyah Ahmad, director of local and community affairs, said.
Ahmad recruits organizations to participate and organizes the time and place of the day. Eileen Bradley, project coordinator and captain of special services, contacts residents of the neighborhoods who act as block captains to maintain their streets, provides supplies and recruits administrators to get involved.
Ahmad said that TSG recruits different organizations that may not have gotten to know each other initially, thus fostering a more collaborative environment.
“One of the challenges is making sure people come out,” Ahmad said. “We always want as many people as possible.”
The Sept. 27 Adopt-a-Block day covered the 1700 and 1800 blocks of Norris Street, and an alleyway on Willington and Berks streets.
Adopt-a-Block has been focusing more on alleys and side streets this year, as opposed to main thoroughfares.
“In previous years, we started closer to Broad Street, but that [area] wasn’t really the problem,” Ahmad said. “The only way to see improvement is if you go to the areas that need to be improved.”
TSG places an emphasis on not only cleaning up trash and planting flowers, but also on building a connection with the communities and neighborhoods surrounding Temple.
“[Temple] is slowly forging good relationships,” Bradley said. “It’s really important that the neighborhood sees that students want to give back to the community where they live.”
“It’s a way for Temple students to show our respect for the community already there,” Ahmad said.
Tau Kappa Epsilon participated in September’s Adopt-a-Block day on the 1800 block of Willington Street. According to Chris Konowal, a brother of TKE, 18 people from the organization participated.
“It’s a good way to have a more consistent effect on the community,” Konowal, a marketing and economics major, said. “By the time we were finished, it felt good. A resident came out and said she really appreciated us helping.”
For Gaymon, Adopt-a-Block is not just what Temple should want to do, but need to do. She said her neighborhood “needed to be cleaned up.”
Bradley said that for future cleanups, organizations are expected to pass on their “adopted” block to the next board of the organization.
“The ultimate goal in the spring is to get plaques and put them on the streets,” Bradley said. “We want to give the organizations a sense of legacy.”
“We’re out here to make a difference,” Konowal said. “My legacy is that I want Temple to have changed for the better since I’ve been here.”
“[We want to] create an identity for Temple students and this is one way to introduce us in a positive way,” Ahmad said. “We want to always make sure we keep that relationship going and we want the community to know we’re always there to help out.”
The next Adopt-a-Block day will be held on Oct. 25.
Lian Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @Lian_parsons