For the first time, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation put together a service project in memory of Sept. 11.
In honor of Sept. 11, volunteers commemorated the 10th anniversary by dedicating their time and effort to a park cleanup at the Wissahickon Valley Park.
“This is the first time we’ve done a service event project on Sept. 11 as a commemoration of Sept. 11,” said David Bower, the volunteer coordinator of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. “What we are hoping to do is to fix some parts of the park that were damaged severely in all the recent storms. So we will be performing a very important service to the community and to park users.”
Bower also hopes that this day of service will “make the connection between how the country and the world pulled together right after Sept. 11.”
“Our work in the park will show just how much we can do when we do pull together and focus on a common goal,” Bower added.
Volunteers worked to clear drains of debris and trash along the edge of the park. Other volunteers trimmed over-grown trees and repaired trails. Later, three trees were planted in the deep woods of the park.
“We’re actually doing something positive for the community and after the hurricane there was a lot of trash everywhere so I just decided to come out and clean up and help the environment,” volunteer Ulonda Lewis said.
What makes this project unique was the brief meeting at William Penn’s “Toleration” statue before the conclusion of the project. Bower gave a brief history of Penn’s legacy in Pennsylvania. For volunteers, this was a time of reflection and open discussion about Penn’s policy of toleration.
“I just think, especially today, this is a very important place to come,” Bower said. “You look back to how we reacted to what happened Sept. 11, 10 years ago. We kind of got off to a good start, where in the first few days, the first couple of weeks it seemed like everybody all over the world was pulling together. Do you feel like that’s the way the world is right now? It doesn’t seem that way, but we could get back to that.”
Bower pointed to William Penn’s “Toleration” statue and said, “And this is the guy that could lead the way. Read up on William Penn. Learn as much as you can and continue to do what you did today to turn your beliefs into action and make the world a better place.”
Ultimately, Bower wants everyone to understand that, “If everybody in the world was more tolerant of each other the world would just be a better place and we will never have a repeat of Sept. 11.”
Kierra Bussey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.