Nutter congratulates Lawncrest and Burholme residents on a job well done

Mayor Michael Nutter greets Heavy Hitta’s coaches Lonnie Haile (blue) and Rick Terrell (yellow) as Cleanup leaders Kathy Wersinger and Matt Taubenberger look on. Photo by Ian Roman. Hugh Campbell, a 45-year-resident of Burholme, thanked Matt Taubenberger for sweeping up trash Saturday.

Campbell said he can’t shop at the stores on Castor Avenue because there is too much trash.

“It’s good to see a couple of young fellas cleaning up,” Campbell said. “I’m a product of New York City and left because it was so filthy.”

Taubenberger and a group of college students took part in Philadelphia’s spring cleanup by packing mulch into the street trees and sweeping the sidewalks on Burholme’s end of Rising Sun Avenue. Councilwoman Marian Tasco joined volunteers on the Lawncrest end of the street.

“One of the things that I really hate and see all the time is people throwing their trash right on the ground,” said Taubenberger, who plays an active role in the neighborhood as part of the Business Association. “I think when people walk by and see us cleaning up they realize how hard it is to keep the street clean and they try not to litter.” The entire project spanned between Cottman and Adams avenues.

Seven of the volunteers in Burholme were freshmen pledge applicants from Temple University’s Kappa Sigma fraternity. Taubenberger recruited a troop of Cub Scouts to help him last year, but the younger group had a scouting event Saturday.

Nick Foss, a freshman pledge and Somerton resident, said he felt a lot of pride when he swept his neighborhood’s streets.

“You really see how your effort works out first hand,” he said.

Mark Fabbi, a legislative assistant from State Rep. Brendan Boyle’s office, helped direct volunteers when they poured mulch around the trees’ bases. Fabbi said it’s getter harder to find volunteers.

“We’re bringing work back into the community by doing social events like this,” Fabbi said.

A clerk from King’s 99 Cents & Cold Cuts walked outside with a broom and dust pan when he saw the college students sweeping in front of the store. Employee Jim Lee said he couldn’t stand by without helping.

“The street gets so dirty, somebody has to clean it up,” he said.

The trees on Rising Sun Avenue were planted into the sidewalks by Taubenberger two years ago. Northeast Tree Tenders, a local non-profit, removed the squares of sidewalk to free up dirt for planting.

Paulette Rodriguez, a volunteer with Northeast Tree Tenders, swept the sidewalk by the Lawncrest Rec Center.

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“It’s so nice to have trees in the neighborhood because the streets would look so bare without them,” Rodriguez said.

Brad El, the owner of the Boaz & Ruth at 244 Higbee St., said he cleaned up trash from the avenue because his business shares the neighborhood with residents.

“You can’t just sit on the sidelines,” El added.

Taubenberger and Kathy Wersinger moved the Rising Sun Avenue sweep on Philadelphia’s Spring Cleanup day two years ago to give more attention to their neighborhoods’ streets.  The two claim to clean about 20 blocks of the avenue every year. Taubenberger is an aid for Councilman Jack Kelly and Wersinger is an administrative assistant to Tasco.

“The main artery of Lawncrest and Burholme is Rising Sun Avenue,” Wersinger said.

Taubenberger organized smaller cleanups in Burholme before meeting Wersinger. He would borrow equipment from the Community Partnership Program warehouse on 4000 American St. and gather residents from civic meetings.

“We couldn’t have done it without the supplies loaned by the city,” Taubenberger said.

Mayor Michael Nutter stopped by the Lawncrest Rec Center at 2 p.m. to thank everyone who swept.

The brooms, shovels, pretzels and shirts were distributed by the city.

“The work you do is very important,” Nutter said.

Johnny G’s Pizza at 7315 Oxford Ave. handed out sandwiches to volunteers after everyone was finished working.

Ian Roman is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.

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