“The Philadelphia Playworks team participated in Make A Difference Day in North Philadelphia at the Awbury Arboretum. At the beginning of the day we met up at the house of service day’s coordinator. He was a charming reverend who informed us that over 100 volunteers would be attending. The Playworks team was assigned the job of picking up trash along several streets in the neighborhood. As we walked through our set route, picking up trash, we had a chance to see the poor states of some of the houses. While trash was strewn across the sidewalks and lots, some of the houses had been absolutely destroyed from Hurricane Irene. While the storm had occurred almost a month prior to our visit, several houses looked completely abandoned with no evidence of any attempts salvage them. As I looked up at the houses, I began to wonder why we were bothering even picking up litter when there didn’t seem to be anyone who cared about the area. It was at this time that an elderly lady stepped out of her house and said, “Thank you so much for doing this. Just the fact that you’re here to help is enough.”
I think that this is an excellent example about why Make a Difference Day is so important. Sometimes we’re not going to be thanked for our service, but the fact that we are out there wanting to have a positive impact in neighborhoods. For instance, later in the day we were asked to help clear the sidewalk next to the arboretum that had been overrun with brush. Although it seemed an odd mission, we kept getting honked at by cars driving by. The drivers would then shout, “Yo, it looks great!” There were other variations of it, of course, but the message was clear: people were thankful for the help. We later learned, many residents of the neighborhood are wheel chair bound, and are forced to go use their wheel chairs on a busy street where the sidewalk was overgrown. So, it felt good that we were doing something in the neighborhood that was being appreciated by the local residents.
Also, I had a lot of fun working with my other Americorps team members. We enjoyed laughing and joking with each other while we picked up the trash and cleared the brush. That’s the other great part of service projects. If you go into the day of service dragging your feet, you’re not going to get anything out of it. However, we all came in with positive attitudes and were ready to work. It was a great day of bonding with my team. It made making a difference that much better.”
C.W. Henry Elementary