TURTLE TALKS…December Issue IT’S ALL ABOUT THE NUMBERS – “…and we’re counting.”

By Alexis Franklin

Twenty Twenty was to be the 30th anniversary celebration of The Friends of McMichael Park. It was NOT the anniversary year that we had planned. Although we still remember the 29 prior years, and we have much to celebrate.

Looking back over those three decades of volunteer service to McMichael Park, to say the 25 core members of The FOMP group “accomplished much” would be an understatement.

After 30 years of dedicated volunteerism to McMichael Park, The FOMP group was responsible for planting 37 new trees within the park, filling more than 3,000 bags of debris and trash, raising $83,188.00 USD in grants, and an additional $45,000.00 USD in direct fundraising.

Fifteen coats of paint cover Morton the Turtle — the centerpiece of McMichael Park — with The FOMP group giving him a fresh coat every other year.

While the park has had a doggy bag dispensary installed, more than 96,000 doggy bags were used.

All 22 park benches around the park have been painted 15 times during The FOMP group’s tenure.

The FOMP group hosted 200 guests each year for 12 years of “Free Theater” each summer for the annual Shakespeare In The Park series in conjunction with Commonwealth Classic Theatre, and partnered with the Falls of Schuylkill Library to provide 65 total hours of summer story time reading to children by Morton the Turtle.

The FOMP group participated in every annual Love Your Park (formerly Philly Cares) service day sponsored by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PP&R). That’s 30 years of mulching, planting trees, raking, bagging and pruning.

Every year for the last 21 years, FOMP placed approximately 250 “love lights” on one of the trees in McMichael Park in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. The “love lights” were donated by loving individuals in the greater Philadelphia community, and honored or were in memory of a loved one, person, friend or place … or a furry friend. At present, McMichael Park is still the only park in the City of Philadelphia to hold this kind of annual celebration. It is part of McMichael Park’s unique character, and difference as part of the greater PP&R family.

Over the past two years, McMichael Park has been a stop for PP&R’s summer Parks on Tap (POT) events, a pop-up beer garden that served some 200 attendees each day during its appearance in McMichael Park. The third year of POT was cancelled due to COVID-19.

At all times, there have been four FOMP volunteers to tend to the garden beds located at each of the four street corners of McMichael Park — Henry Avenue at Coulter Street, Coulter Street at McMichael Street, McMichael Street at Midvale Avenue, and Midvale Avenue at Henry Avenue — weeding the bedding, planting flowers and seasonal decorating.

For 18 consecutive years, FOMP received help from students at the William Penn Charter School, with the school encouraging the participation of students for an annual clean up community service and environmental day. In 2020, McMichael Park was able to give back to William Penn Charter, housing temporary outdoor classrooms for students during the fall semester amidst the pandemic. Another landmark and unique difference for The FOMP to help educate and broaden the offering to all students.

For those same 18 years, university student volunteers from nearby Jefferson University marked the start of fall semester with an annual cleanup day in McMichael Park — first as Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, then later as Philadelphia University before the larger merger with Thomas Jefferson University.

In addition to bestowing honorary volunteer designations to the aforementioned educational institutions, McMichael Park can also count primary school students from Thomas Mifflin School, high school students from Roman Catholic High School and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, as well as university students from Temple University, all of whom have dedicated time over the years to assisting FOMP with park cleanups. These many students have earned their community service credits in the shadow of Morton as a mentor to all ages in environmental responsibility and as friends of open, green space.

The FOMP has had the distinction of having one of the longest continuously running newspaper columns in East Falls, first with a monthly column in The Fallser Newspaper until 2015, and into the virtual age as an independent monthly e-newsletter.

McMichael Park has played host to elected officials from both the city and state for events as long as there has been an FOMP group:

  • One United States senator — Arlen Specter;
  • One United States congressman — Chaka Fattah, a park neighbor;
  • Two Philadelphia city mayors — Michael Nutter and Edward Rendell. McMichael Park counts the latter as a park neighbor, as the former governor has resided for much of his professional life in East Falls;
  • Three PP&R commissioners / executive directors — Kathryn Ott-Lovell, Michael DiBerardinis and William Mifflin;
  • Five city council members, past and present — Curtis Jones Jr., Jamie Gauthier, Michael Nutter, Ann J. Land and Joan Specter.

The FOMP group can also count royalty as having visited McMichael Park during its tenure over the last 30 years: Albert II, Prince of Monaco. Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, and Albert’s mother, was raised in the Kelly family home across Coulter Street from the park.

Friends of McMichael Park volunteers Bill Hoffner and Frances Bourne attend to the tree pit of the “Black Tupelo,” which was planted in 2015. Ongoing volunteer hours of weeding and mulching and planting of daffodils. A welcoming touch showing McMichael Park is well cared for.

In 2017, $65,000.00 USD was spent on restoring the War Memorial, a monument honoring the more than 10,000 residents of 19129 who served in wartime, dating back to pre-colonial days.

In 2020, $250,000.00 USD (donated by Councilman Jones Jr.) was spent on a playground that is intended to serve hundreds of children.

Contrast the 2020 spending with the staggering statistics from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 83,000+ Philadelphians have tested positive for COVID-19, and 2,200+ individuals have died, more than any other county in the State of Pennsylvania. According to Billy Penn, the City of Philadelphia is now seeing 900+ new COVID-19 cases each day, 880+ hospitalizations, and more than 100 deaths in the past seven days.

Unemployment in Philadelphia stood at 17.7 percent, the highest unemployment rate of all counties that make up the metropolitan area. Homelessness stands at about 5,700, according to the Office of Homeless Services. As of Monday, Dec. 15, police recorded 473 homicides, up 39 percent over last year, and more than double that of 2013.  Though the stock market might be up, sadly, the number of businesses closing across the city is also increasing — more than 1,000 since March. And with so many people working from home, office occupancy rates are down. The City of Philadelphia has a $749 billion USD budget deficit as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with budget cuts to PP&R planned.

Now we’re counting down to Christmas. Then the New Year … 2021. And then Inauguration Day. And this year especially, every vote counted.

Because well-managed parks and public spaces are more essential than ever, there have been a record number of visitors to McMichael Park this past year. A testimonial to the 30 years of pristine care, management and diligent environmental responsibility. It is a sign of how important green space is to the community, which The Friends of McMichael Park has steadfastly managed and maintained.

A toast and extra thanks to our 25 core volunteers who persevered.

As we head into this holiday season: We give pause as we celebrate, and count our blessings. Ready to rebound in 2021.

Some recent additions to the count …

  • One dead sycamore tree that was on the removal list for two years was finally taken down.
  • Three tree tags are being installed by The FOMP on the Anniversary trees that were planted in spring 2020.
  • Several new mowers were purchased by PP&R. McMichael Park is now on the list for having its leaves mulched in place.
  • Ten new DUMOR benches will be installed in the park in 2021.
  • Five of the Gift for All Season benches are being replaced. These benches include the Gembala Family Bench, the Linda Koons Bench, the Faye Tyler Bench, The Kubacki Bench, and “The Doon” Bench.

Turtle News – November Issue 2020

by Alexis Franklin

“This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for family, friends, time for rest and play in McMichael Park, the golden tree canopy and — of course — The Turtle.”

Many thanks to The William Penn Charter School students who painted the repaired benches in McMichael Park. Bench repair was recently completed by PP&R. The paint materials were supplied by The Friends of McMichael Park. The students had a great time “being green” on this Friday afternoon in November. Awesome! (photo credits: Tom Rickards)

(photo credits: Regina Maxwell, Beth Gross-Eskin and Alexis Franklin)

Signs of Love Your Park Solo throughout McMichael Park are visible with some seasonal additions of scarecrows, pumpkins and mums. Fall leaves bring such beauty to the scenery with festive oranges and yellows. To rake or not to rake? The old school thinking was to remove every leaf from the lawn. The advice today is that dead leaves, handled well, can help the environment, improve the grass and give you time to enjoy that hot chocolate on an autumn day. Mulching leaves is accomplished by breaking down the leaves in small pieces, usually by mowing them. Tiny particles of mulched leaves improve the lawn. The mulched leaves set around the tree pits, and grass puts nitrogen back in the soil as decomposition takes place. This process works better if mulched several times during the season. Be careful, as a heavy layer of fallen leaves can smother the turf.

Some leaf litter also benefits certain habitat for winter months. Toads and earthworms, some butterflies and moths use leaves as their homes for the winter season. A toad was seen during one of our story hours with Falls of Schuylkill librarian, Ms. Meredith … where there is one, there are many!

The process of mulching leaves in McMichael Park by PP&R was discontinued several years ago. Today, the leaves are bagged and taken to the city’s recycling center for composting. Never mix trash or other recyclable materials with bagged leaves. This contaminates leaves and makes them unfit for recycling purposes. In the spring, the composted mulched leaves are returned to neighborhood parks upon request. The Friends of McMichael Park are grateful to the volunteers who provide this service for McMichael Park. Please be aware the McMichael Park is not a leaf drop off location. For drop-off details and leaf collection schedules visit PhiladelphiaStreets.com/leaves or call 311.

Congratulations to Frank and Mary Kaderabek on their 60th Wedding Anniversary. Their family surprised them with a tree planted in McMichael Park through the Gift for All Seasons Program. A Black Tupelo, “Nyssa Sylvatica” was planted by PP&R’s Jim Moffatt. Thank you. What a lovely addition and enhancement to McMichael Park.

There is still no “caution “signage in the McMichael Park playground construction area at this time. Please avoid this danger area, including the sidewalk along Coulter St. Construction began two months ago. As of this printing the status of the permit for this project is still pending. The photo above is the signage used to manage the playground construction in Gold Star Park (615 Wharton St.).

Caution from PP&R: While more people are spending time outside, PP&R urges citizens to continue to be vigilant and careful, and follow the Green Phase Best Practices for PFN for all activities. 

Park Friends Network (ONLINE) Meeting
Thursday, November 12th
Please mark your calendars and join us for our next Park Friends Network Meeting on Thursday, November 12th from 6:00 – 7:30 PM online via Zoom. We’ll share important updates and information.

Turtle News…October/2020 Issue

by Alexis Franklin, Coordinator/FOMP

Our City continues to be in a “modified” green phase…
And Covid-19 cases in Philadelphia continue to rise…

LYPSolo with Turtle

LOVE YOUR PARK – FALL/2020

The Friends of McMichael Park decided to continue with Love Your Park Solo as part of our fall clean-up for 2020. This seemed to be the best way to keep our group safe and practice social distancing. Lindsey Walker from the Fairmount Park Conservancy offered bags and bulbs to those who are interested in planting, raking or mulching. Please contact Alexis Franklin (Lexy3904@gmail.com), and we will do our best to get these supplies to you at a time that you can independently commit.

Some clean-up work has already started at the corner garden bed of Henry and Midvale Avenues with the help of our FOMP volunteer Beth Gross -Eskin. Other work is being done by the William Penn Charter students, including Turtle sweeping and tree mulching. All volunteer hours will be registered as part of our LYP Solo commitment.

McMichael Park has been home to many activities and events this past month. Music with Gina on Wednesday mornings, Yoga Workouts on Thursday, Weekly BootCamp, Meditation, outdoor classroom for Penn Charter students, a Ruth Bader Ginsburg vigil, pick up football games and picnics. Fun!!!!

Before and After photos of the Anniversary Tree. Please use arrows to slide side to side for full view.

Trees in Shock — Playground “Permit-less”

The Anniversary Redbud planted in 2019 along with three other trees were transplanted to make way for the playground. The construction company in charge of building the playground did all transplanting. The company was also responsible for watering the four trees.

According to PP&R, all four trees are currently “in shock.” Please see the above before and after photographs. All tree transplanting locations were decided by PP&R. The relocated trees look “very stressed,” exacerbated by construction fencing that butts directly up against two of the transplanted trees.

According to Jason Mifflin of PP&R, “It can take them a while to bounce back and they need time to recover. It can sometimes take a tree a few years to fully recover. We can reassess how they are doing in the late spring/2021 and determine if any will need to be replaced at that point or just allowed more time to recover.” 

Despite construction already underway on the playground, according to both Philadelphia City Hall and Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections, there is currently no permit on record for construction of the playground in McMichael Park. Additionally, there is currently no information or signage posted on site, as per city rules and regulations.

According to local labor union officials in Philadelphia, the playground is currently being built by a non-union, non-local construction company based in Phoenixville, PA.

Currently, no “Caution” or “No Trespassing” signs are posted around the playground, and even with fencing erected, it is still relatively easy for individuals to enter the construction site. Please use common sense and exercise caution. A porta potty is on site, but is not for public use.

For all further information, please contact John Keiser, PP&R Project Manager for the playground at the following e-mail: John.Keiser@phila.gov

Turtle News: September 2020 Back to School in McMichael Park- Signs of Positivity

by Alexis Franklin

The Friends of McMichael Park were unable to offer any of our planned events this year, but as students head back to school, McMichael Park will be activated with an educational twist. It has been a challenging year and no one can put a pin in this pandemic. Now is the time when a new school year begins and students are being asked to adjust to a new normal.

Jefferson University Cleans Up McMichael Park

On August 21st, The Friends of McMichael Park hosted ten incoming Jefferson University students lead by team leader/senior Alaina McIlhenney. The students — all wearing face masks, and armed with bags, gloves and trash grabbers — traversed the park and picked up trash and stockpiled branches at various corners. It was a hot Friday afternoon but for two hours the students enjoyed the open green space as they got to know one another. Fun fact: Several of the students walked over from the Ravenhill campus where they had just moved in. They had a laugh when they heard they were housed in the old classroom of FOMP Coordinator, Alexis Franklin where she attended high school. Thanks to Louise McShane for her organizing efforts mobilizing the new students into the neighborhood.

Middle and High School Students from William Penn Charter Join In

The William Penn Charter School students will return for a new semester the first week in September, and are planning to hold outdoor classrooms in McMichael Park on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. This will include meditation and yoga classes to be held in the open meadow. On Friday afternoons the group will offer a community service hour, where students will bring rakes and shovels to McMichael Park for regular cleanup. FOMP will supply bags and gloves, while students keep McMichael Park looking good and green. Thanks to Tom Rickards from Penn Charter for partnering with the Friends of McMichael Park.

Don’t Forget the Little Ones

“Music with Gina” will begin early September on Wednesday mornings. Some may remember Gina when she performed with her band at Love Your Park in May/2018. FOMP volunteer Geoff Brock recommends Gina, saying, “She’s such a talented, positive, cheerful performer and has the kids in motion and memorizing the songs.” Something tells us that Geoff is the biggest kid in the class. Gina requested McMichael Park, and saying, “It would be awesome to be more free and have lots and lots of space to keep everyone at least six feet apart on their blankets.” FOMP agrees that McMichael Park is an awesome green space. Music with babies/toddlers and their caregivers. Bring a blanket, instrument, and scarf! Class begins at 10:00 AM every Wednesday.

Web Site: www.musicwithgina.com 

Instagram: @musicwithgina

Facebook: Music with Gina

Signs of Positivity….Appreciate the outdoor signs that were funded by a group of neighbors to honor the Friends of McMichael Park as part of its 30th Year Anniversary.

Stay up to date with the Friends of McMichael Park:

Facebook: FriendsOfMcmichaelPark

Instagram: friendsofmcmichael

From Philadelphia Parks and Recreation – Wednesday, September 9th at 6:00 PM
Dear Park Friends, 

The Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Fairmount Park Conservancy Stewardship Team is excited to invite you to our second online Park Friends Network Meeting on Wednesday, September 9th at 6:00 PM!
To join the meeting, please follow these steps: Click here to register for the meeting. Enter your name (as it will be seen on the screen), and email address. You will then receive a confirmation email with the meeting link. On the day of the meeting just click on that meeting link to join. Note: If you have not used Zoom before, you will be prompted to download their software (or App if you are joining via smartphone). 
The agenda will cover several important topics, including: COVID-19 Update, Love Your Park Fall Service Day, Parks & Rec Operations Update, and PFN Park Field Trips (formerly known as PFN Bus Tour)

Turtle News: August 2020 Summer Days Keep Drifting Away…

Day lilies ready to bloom at our entrance sign at Henry & Midvale Avenues during the heat wave of 2020.
A heatwave has certainly hit Philadelphia this past month. Park users find a respite in the shade. Picnics, scooters and just plain lounging have been what folks are searching for in our McMichael Park open green space.
Conference Calls are much better in the park with furry friends. A recent park bench was listed for repair and a sycamore tree dropped some major branches was reported and inspected.

Looks like the Ladybugs win this one! Tic-Tac-Toe for Two created in McMichael Park for all to enjoy. Pop up – FUN!

Our McMichael Park Turtle celebrated its 55th birthday this year. Back in 2015 we had cake and celebrated with our 200 person audience as we offered our annual “free theater” in McMichael Park. Hopefully, we will be able to offer summer productions (and birthdays) in 2021.

Fort building….creative play evolves everyday from our young park users.
Meetings and picnics all happening with a social distance in mind. McMichael Park summer 2020.
We had a “hammock” day in McMichael Park in July. Enjoying the shade…drifting away…oh those summer days.
Our FOMP “masked men” who spent most of the summer thus far watering the three Anniversary Trees in McMichael Park. Special thanks to Robert Rabinowitz (left) who allowed the garden hoses to run from his home to provide the necessary 20 gallons per week per tree. Geoff Brock is one of our 30 year volunteers. Much appreciated. Photo credit: Christina Kistler

Meet all of our Amazing FOMP Volunteer’s…recapping our Friends and their stories.

Our series celebrating the 30th Anniversary of The Friends of McMichael Park has come to an end. We were able to highlight 22 of our volunteers. The list is below in case there were some that you missed. Many thanks to all who participated over these many years volunteering in McMichael Park. Readers enjoyed your story and the legacy of being part of The Friends of McMichael Park.

“…the end of the story is never the end of the story.” – Sandy Gingras/Lessons of a Turtle

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Alexis Franklin

July 7, 12:15PM

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Cynthia Kishinchand

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: John-david Franklin

Meet Our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Allison Hirst-O’Callaghan

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Beth Gross-Eskin

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Virginia Hayes

M

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteers: Cathy McCoy and Peter Logan

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteers: Nancy and Don Donaghy

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Mike Andrews

M

Meet our Amazing Volunteers: Marie and Steve Gibbs

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteers: Carla and Ron Bednar

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteers: Robert Rabinowitz and Donna Boling

Our amazing Friends of McMichael Park volunteer: Rich Lampert

Our Amazing Friends of McMichael Park Volunteer: Betty Miller

Turtle News – March 2020 “Where’s the Batter?”

Amazing Friends of McMichael Park volunteer: Geoff Brock

Celebrating 30 Years of Amazing FOMP Volunteers

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Still the most treasured, cherished, loved, dedicated and admired Friend To All…. The McMichael Park Turtle established 1965.

Turtle News: June/July – 2020

Summer 2020 has brought a number of park activities in McMichael Park. Many folks have created their own play of sports, music/guitar playing, family picnics and small gatherings of “hanging out” while keeping the social distance. It is great to see the undertaking of so many adventures. As the coordinator of the Friends of McMichael Park I also appreciate seeing such pride in personal clean up and care that is taken. Thank you. Alexis Franklin – Coordinator FOMP

Anniversary Trees! In light of the 30th Anniversary of the Friends of McMichael Park, Three Trees were planted each one representing a decade of volunteer service. The Trees are quite substantial and getting their weekly watering by our two “Water Guys” FOMP volunteers, Robert Rabinowitz and Geoff Brock. Robert was kind enough to run hoses from his home to keep the trees doused with 20 gallons of water per week. Thanks to PP&R for providing the tree guards.

Pictured below is the Red Maple/Red Sunset, which is a cultivar with superior fall color and good branch structure. It should grow to about 45-50 feet high.

A “Little Leaf Linden” “Tilia Cordata” was also planted. This tree will have a small yellow-green flower that offers a rich heavy scent and will grow about 60 feet.

The third tree planted is an American Sycamore. It has a “mottled” bark which distinguishes it from other trees. This tree can grow to massive proportions of up to 130 feet high and 13 feet in diameter.

All Three trees will provide abundance of shade and enjoyment as you watch it grow and change during the different seasons. They will be a lasting legacy of the years of volunteering from the Friends of McMichael Park. Happy 30th Anniversary.

On June 8th there was a peaceful protest in McMichael Park. Below is some overhead footage from the evening. Thank you to David S. for filming this great footage. Please click on the “pop-out” button in upper right corner to view the video.

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: John-david Franklin

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?

            I have been an advocate of environmental consciousness for all of my adult life.  Having grown up in a culture of volunteerism and “save the planet,” green space is a neighborhood imperative.  McMichael Park is a haven of green, peace, and calm in an otherwise confused and chaotic world. Living in the city, East Falls is the natural green space outside of Center City.  Throughout the 40 years I lived in East Falls, it was essential and basically a requirement that “giving back” is the most important part of community engagement.  Do I love the obligation? Absolutely, with steadfast determination we must preserve the green canopy and by default McMichael was my green space, open air center, of choice.

What volunteer moment are you are most proud of?

         Where to start? The very first clean up? Bob Brano, a former neighbor and early member of the Friends, and I literally mowed the grass in the Park. The first plantings? Digging tree pits and watching these saplings mature and contribute to the green canopy. I was a founding member of the Development Corporation and we literally created the Flea Market. Got my old band back together and we played at one of the Park events. All the “Love-Your-Park” events? Lovelights? The Hymn Sing? The Pumpkin Labyrinth? Shakespeare and providing “free” theatre! The parades? Especially the baby parades! Most memorable? For me it was cleaning up the War Memorial and putting out Flags on Flag Day.  I distinctly remember 9/11 and its subsequent anniversaries.  Many times I would stand in front of our most impressive and iconic memorial architecture and consider all of our neighbors, friends, and family whose memory is embodied with those stones.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  

            Challenges are not overcome individually and so the teamwork and collaboration of the many is vital and necessary. We have endured natural and manmade catastrophe’s, but all-in-all The Friends have remained strong and determined. I do see a challenge and that is something that all groups face: training the next generation, whether X, Y, or Z, and a beneficial succession plan. McMichael Park is one a very few green gems in our City.  Other Parks and Friends groups have deep pockets and considerable endowments.  Ours is a labor of love.  In the eyes of Parks & Recreation, The Friends of McMichael Park is notable, well respected in City Hall and the Municipal Services Building, and the case study for open space and park management.  With the budget short falls from COVID anyone or group who was expecting funding may not get funding of any kind.

How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?

            After almost 40 years in the proverbial flower beds, I realized that conservation means protection and sustainability equates to responsibility to the environment. The corner of Henry and Coulter was an eyesore when I started helping the Friends.  And so, assessing the magnitude of the cleanup, the engagement of the then Department of Recreation and the Fairmount Park Commission, I volunteered, cleaned up the corner and continued to provide the necessary sweat equity that was required. Many followed, stayed, and look at what we have today!

What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?

            We are facing a future with the “blankest” canvas we could ever imagine. But also, COVID-19 catapulted us into the reality that was inevitable. There is no money; hence, dig deeper, literally and proverbially, and get your back into it. There will be a prolonged time of limited resources; hence, cultivate a new generation of volunteers (very hard, but necessary). No idea is a bad idea. Time for new thinking and methodologies.

            We are not social theorists, political pundits, or epidemiologists. That goes without saying, but the words of Benjamin Franklin ring true today as they did in the 18th century: “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

FOMP: 30th Anniversary Masks…get one while they last!

Friends of McMichael Park Volunteers, Frances Bourne (left) and Bill Hoffner (right) sporting their masks as part of the 30th year of stewardship!

As part of the 30th Anniversary of the Friends of McMichael a new accessory was created which is sign of the times. Our masks in green (of course) with our custom turtle logo is being sported around the neighborhood. A limited number of masks are available for sale. ($12.00 each plus S&H) When the masks are sold out then they are gone. If interested in purchasing, please contact lexy3904@gmail.com. Proceeds go the Friends of McMichael Park. Stay safe where ever you are….Thank you.

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Beth Gross-Eskin

“You’ll end up having more, if you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
I love the opportunity to serve my community and volunteer for a wonderful cause. Spending time with neighbors, sharing the same passion and interest in preservation for our neighborhood park is quite fulfilling. We all have the same goal in mind to provide perpetual care for this green oasis in our neighborhood! I like the welcoming feeling that the FOMP extends to anyone who wants to volunteer.


What volunteer moment are you most proud of?


My favorite activity is decorating the Lovelights tree for Valentine’s Day. A small group of us gather on a cold February morning to spread red lights all over the tree. It is quite the challenge, but we are determined to make the lights look just right. With ladders, poles  and a creative eye, we work as a team and engage in this time honored tradition. When we are done we take a group selfie and revel in a job well done! This is a feel-good project and wonderful act of kindness that not only raises funds for the park, but also brings the community together.

I have adopted one of corner gardens in the park at Henry and Midvale.  To help me, I made a request on Nextdoor.com for perennials that could be donated from personal gardens to the garden I was tending. I was thrilled to receive so many donations from neighbors and when I picked up each of the plants, I had the opportunity to meet new neighbors and share the mutual love of gardening.


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  

I don’t feel there has been any real challenge to volunteer, but do regret that I didn’t become a volunteer sooner! I have learned a lot about the running of the park and that it truly takes a village to make it the beautiful space that it is. Together we organize Love Your Park Day, plan community gatherings, and promote our mission to help others learn about the value of an open green space where all can run, play, and relax! How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?

I am a newbie to the group and officially started volunteering in the spring of 2016. Back in 2008, I answered a call to plant flowers around The War Memorial and I loved planting and watering the flowers through the growing season. I have always enjoyed going to the park with my children, doggies and my grandson for many, many years. It’s my happy place!  Now that I am a volunteer, it makes me appreciate the park even more so it’s easy to want to help make it be the best place possible.


What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?
Come and join the fun! Working together as a community to preserve and protect this precious space takes a commitment to volunteer more than just one day of service. It can be a life-long investment to ensure that the park remains as it is and not return to the derelict place that it was 30 years ago. I am confident that this is possible to achieve with a little help from our friends! In my work with FOMP I’m always reminded of this Oprah Winfrey quote: “You’ll end up having more, if you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Volunteering can help remind us how fortunate we are to have such a wonderful park in our community and that it is important for us all to strive to keep it an open and welcoming space for all”

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Virginia Hayes

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy…when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” – Anonymous

I started volunteering in McMichael Park when the Millennium Grove was established along with Two Kousa Dogwoods as part of the “Gift for All Seasons” program. The day after the trees were planted a motorcycle driver lost control of his bike and jump the curb and hit one of the brand new trees. I knew the trees were going to need help. I tend to the tree pits, watered and mulched them for years and now…. it is twenty years later and the trees are thriving.

I am not always able to officially participate in the service days. I do more cleaning up in the park after windy days and storms as needed. I will be over there cleaning up the dogwoods this spring. I am more inclined to take care of things as I see the need.

I’ve lived park side since 1979 and have loved having such a beautiful view from my front patio. Our boys and their friends spent hours in the park playing volleyball and football, and enjoying the freedom of open space.I grew up in a small town where having access to green areas is a common asset.

For me to have such an opportunity in the city, is truly a gift. I hope it remains just as it is.

Turtle News: IT’S A WRAP!

by Alexis Franklin

Love Your Park @Home 2020 — McMichael Park saluted the 30th Anniversary Celebration of The Friends of McMichael Park with a nine-day Love-fest. Our daily videos, self taped by our volunteers were one-of-a-kind and ones to remember. Unique, AND different!

All of us learned so much … Cuts … Edits … Lighting … Sound … Retakes … iMovie!

We appreciate those Friends and volunteers who got involved and glad our stay at home readers got a big kick out of the videos too.

Audience reach was more than 1,000 on some days, and we’ve received many supportive comments from our readers. Peter and Cathy certainly missed their “Monty Python” calling. And there were sightings of Mark Anthony at the Acme. Christina took us back for some Park history related to the War Memorial and then she and husband Brian brought us a glimmer of hope as we look ahead to Parks on Tap … maybe? Robert and Beth reminded us of how easy it is to adopt a garden bed, and how simple it is to work independently in our current situation. Our gifted reader Jay Fogarty — grandson of 30 year volunteer Betty Miller — mesmerized us with his voices for “The Lorax.” Yes, Danny Devito, you should be concerned. If you missed the dailies then take a look at the links below and see what everyone is talking about.

McMichael Park, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and Fairmount Park Conservancy all have certainly been elevated this past week. We’ve all noted more people using McMichael Park, and all of the Park patrons should be commended on the social distancing practice and creative play in McMichael Park during this time. Yoga, family picnics, sidewalk chalk designs and much more.

McMichael Park as is … is certainly a joy to all at this time.

The City of Philadelphia budget for fiscal year 2021 has been recommended by Mayor Jim Kenney, and is awaiting a vote from the City Council. The proposal includes a massive 20 percent cut to PP&R’s annual budget. Click here to read the proposed budget.

Commissioner Kathryn Ott-Lovell has asked Friends Groups around the city to do “more.” Volunteering will be the only way that the Park system can and will survive. Children need to be fed. Pools will be closed indefinitely. Recreation Centers and public libraries will have limited hours, if they open at all. Seasonal maintenance associates will be drastically cut. The new normal will require more time, talent and energy from its volunteers and Friends’ groups.

The Friends of McMichael Park stand ready to support the City of Philadelphia and PP&R in any way it can, as this determined and diligent group has done for the past 30 years.

As we look ahead, planning will need to be creative.

Our McMichael Park series celebrating Love Your Park @Home 2020 week is a step in that creative process.

FOMP Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfMcmichaelPark

FOMP Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/friendsofmcmichael/

Nancy asks that you stay six feet apart

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteers: Cathy McCoy and Peter Logan

If you don’t believe one person can make a difference, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.— Anita Roddick 

Whenever Peter and I buy a new house (five, so far), I always stand on the front porch and look across the street to find out what I will be looking at every day.  When we bought our house on Coulter Street, 16 years ago, I looked out and saw McMichael Park.  It was March and there weren’t even any leaves on the trees yet, but I could tell we would have a great view.

We were gradually drawn into helping with the park in several ways. The best part about volunteering was the sense of camaraderie working with the other volunteers. We are really missing out on that in these pandemic days.

I have raked leaves and planted a tree during Love Your Park days, Peter has painted a bench and helped to string Love Lights.  We are currently housing the rainbow chairs in our shed, and we are now the proud caretakers of the dog poop stations in the park.  So, if we are remiss in keeping them filled, you know who to call.

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteers: Nancy and Don Donaghy

“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”― Jimmy Doolittle

Nancy and I have lived “park side” on Midvale for fifty years this coming June. My earliest memory of the park was looking out our bay window to the meadow. It looked like a fairway. A few short years later, we had a professional photo taken of our daughter, Elizabeth, playing in the park among the yellow ground flowers. The park, however, fell upon bad times later in the 70s and 80s as upkeep was neglected. McMichael Park became a destination for keg-night drinking parties and the Turtle became a target for beer bottles. Drugs were also in evidence, and a dead body was dumped in the park. Police deemed it a bad business deal gone wrong. The centennial year was a brief uptick in the slide.

Help was on the way in the trio of Alexis Franklin, Tom Williams and Keith Shively. My first recollection of their early efforts were Keith and Tom painting and repairing the old in-ground benches and scorching the weeds on the cracks in the sidewalks. The formal Friends group was conceived and established by these best of neighbors. Our active participation in the Love Your Park days have slowed as we age, but our appreciation for the effort has not diminished. It once again looks like a fairway.

A word or two about the Turtle. Our children and now our grandchildren still make periodic trips to visit the Turtle. My son, Daniel, gave us a photo block the chronicles their visits through the years.

Thanks again, Alexis, Tom, Keith and the Friends of McMichael Park for sharing and caring for McMichael Park has been and remains the treasure it is.

The Donaghy Grands taking a reoccurring ride on the Turtle. Nan and Don observing from the bench.

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteer: Mike Andrews

“No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another.” – Anonymous

Meet Mike Andrews, a conversation with FOMP volunteer and dedicated Pet Rescuer. The Heart and Paw of Pet Adoption during “Love Your Park.”

Sadly, The Friends of McMichael Park are unable to offer their Pet Adoption this year due to the cancellation of Love Your Park/Spring/2020. Mike organized this event for McMichael Park the past three years.

Many shelters aren’t allowing volunteers inside because of the pandemic, but animals are still coming in and need homes. ACCT and PAWS and smaller rescues still need adopters and fosters, and are suffering financially like everyone else. Money is tight for everyone, but if anyone has any to spare, don’t forget the homeless animals.

Below is the republication of an article about Mike and Love Your Park/ McMichael Park that appeared in April 2019.

Love Your Park 2019 at McMichael Park will be hosting a pet adoption from 11:00am to 1pm on May 11th, (rain date May 18th) with thanks to Friends of McMichael Volunteer Mike Andrews. Mike is the organizer for this event. He can often be seen about McMichael Park and around town with many different dogs. Mike sat down for a Q&A as he discusses why he’s involved, why he loves his canine rescues, and why you should stop by the pet adoption in McMichael Park.

Mike, with your evident love of dogs and rescues, are you a pet owner?
I had a dog growing up, but I moved around a lot in my 20’s and 30’s and never had a pet of my own as an adult. When I bought my house in East Falls with a little fenced yard I began to think that maybe it was time. I wasn’t sure I was ready but the decision was made for me. Friends of mine found a stray dog and were unable to keep him, so they asked if I would hold him for the weekend while they looked for a permanent home for him. That weekend turned into 14 years with Rufus, my best friend and constant companion.

So is that how you got involved with pet rescues?
It kind of happened gradually. Having a dog seems to attract other dogs. We found an unusual number of lost dogs around town and managed to return them all to their homes. We dog sat for friends who traveled for months at a time, and so Sandy joined us. We fostered a dog that was adopted and later found her way back to us, and so we added Pearl to our family. It just seemed logical that we could help others find homes for these lost animals.

And how did you manage to incorporate your pet rescue initiative into your lifestyle?

I began volunteering after I came across a little article in a fitness magazine about The Monster Milers, a group that runs shelter dogs to give them exercise and give them a release from the stress of kennel life. This also provides socialization and exposure they need to find their forever homes. When I realized they were located in Philadelphia I decided to join them. Animal rescue is a community, so once you get involved you tap into a network of conscientious and meaningful people. Through the Monster Milers I developed a love of working with these animals that had fallen on hard times and got to know other people with the same passions. Someone puts out a call for help with a particular situation, and the community comes together to try to find solutions. I guess it is a lifestyle.

What are some of the challenges you experience?
I sadly lost both Rufus and Pearl within two months of each other, and the emotional grief of the loss led me to want to do more to help other dogs in their memory. I was asked if I could drive a dog from the local shelter to an outside rescue that was willing to take him in. I had no idea that there was such a thing, but I said yes. I discovered that there was a whole network of people who did these urgently needed transports every day. The overcrowded city shelter relies on rescue groups with available space to take many of their dogs before time and space run out. While the rescues are happy to help when they can, they often have no way to pick up the dog from the shelter, and so Facebook and other social media platforms enables volunteers to come together to arrange transportation. It’s so amazing and gratifying to see the dog relax and change in just the short time you are driving them to their new life. Dogs that seemed terrified of me when I was putting them in my car were licking my face by the end of the ride.

And there must be some successes! What do you find most gratifying?
The urgent requests are the most satisfying. There have been a number of dogs whose time had unfortunately run out and needed to leave the shelter that night. I’ve arrived several times with only minutes to spare. Other animals have had life threatening medical situations that needed immediate transport to the Vet, and I’ve literally saved a life. Moyo was a sad case that had a severely injured leg and needed to leave the shelter for care immediately. I rushed over, picked him up, and drove faster than I probably should have to an emergency vet in South Jersey. The rescue director was very thankful for the quick response and we’ve kept in touch. Not long after she called me to ask if I could provide temporary foster for an extreme medical case. What was initially supposed to be a two week stay has become permanent, and now we have Benny Van Gogh, the one-eared wonder dog! Now that’s a success!

So with the prospect of sadness from losses and emergencies, why do you continue?
Once you become involved in rescue, it develops a life of its own. People find out you are willing to help and you quickly become the go-to resource. I often hear from friends who have found a dog, have a friend who needs to re-home their pet, or are looking to adopt and want advice. While it was never part of the plan, I’m grateful for the chance I’ve had to contribute in some small way to saving lives and setting many animals on their way to a better future.

Questions: Please contact Mike @ Iammikeandrews@gmail.com.

Meet our Amazing Volunteers: Marie and Steve Gibbs

” Do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

Furry park buddies, Molly on left and Sage on right standing in for their owners Marie and Steve Gibbs. McMichael Park is a dog and people friendly place.

We appreciate being included in the 30-year celebration. Steve and I can’t take credit for the dedicated work that these wonderful people have done for so many years in McMichael Park. Our role over the years has been on an informal basis since the park is literally right outside our front door.

Steve had been picking up trash and debris in the park before I even knew him.  I can tell you there have been so many times when we were going out in the car and he would spot a piece of trash in the park and he would stop the car and get out and pick it up.  I’d have to keep hand wipes in the car at all times; otherwise, we’d have to return home so he could wash his hands.  I also picked up trash and debris when I saw it.  Steve’s knees have gotten worse over the years and it would be risky for him to do that now because of the unevenness of the ground in the park.  After falling last year and fracturing my hip (not in the park) I haven’t been going over there as much.  A few weeks ago, however, I was over there tidying things up a bit.  I have to say that the park has been looking really good in recent years and I know that is because of the FOMP.

In past years whenever we would spot some activity that looked very questionable and clearly problematic, we would call the police and follow up to make sure they came and checked things out.  I remember going over by myself to stop some students who were attacking a park bench. I have been known over the years to go up to someone who didn’t pick up after their dog and offer them a bag after telling them it was wrong.  Honestly, things have seemed so much better in recent years.  I rarely see people walk their dogs and not pick up.  I think people are better now at using the available bags.  Also, we haven’t seen questionable or loud activity in quite a while.

I remember raking up leaves in the park with a bunch of FOMP people.  I really enjoyed it. I really liked the pumpkin labyrinth.  I thought that was a lot of fun.  I actually looked forward to going out to buy my pumpkins.  I love the Valentine’s Day lovelights.  So beautiful! I love the peaceful simple beauty of the park most of all.  We have the Friends group to thank for that!

Thanks for all you do!
Take care and stay safe during this difficult time for our country.

Meet our Amazing FOMP Volunteers: Carla and Ron Bednar

Carla and Ron just celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary at home in East Falls….they have been a valuable asset to McMichael Park over the years. Cheers!
“Service is the rent we pay for living.” – Marian Wright Edelman



What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
Volunteering is FUN!  We enjoy meeting up with old friends and new neighbors to rake, plant, prune, and keep McMichael Park the jewel of East Falls, that it is.   

What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
We are proud to see the spirit of community, as folks of all ages and backgrounds come together in service of our beautiful park.  Personally, we love taking care of the holly and feel a sense of accomplishment in its yearly cleaning, pruning, and tending to. 


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?
The biggest challenge as park volunteers has been to keep up the pace and intensity of activity as we become older.  It’s great to see students, young professionals, and families get involved!
 

How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?

We haven’t kept track of our volunteer time; perhaps it’s been a decade, or two, or three.  We love the sense of community spirit that volunteering brings – we get back much more than we give!


What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?

To friends and volunteers in East Falls and beyond – it takes a village to keep McMichael Park beautiful.  Thanks to all who do!

Turtle News – April 2020 Many Ways to Stay Connected

by Alexis Franklin

CoVid-19 Bench


Over the past few weeks, our country, state and city have monitored the Covid-19 pandemic.  This has been an unstable situation where we are learning new things each day. As of Now, the Friends of McMichael Park have planned a number of upcoming events which we sincerely hope can go on.  However, cancellations may occur as this health crisis unfolds.  Please stay connected to our various sites and The Friends of McMichael Park will keep everyone updated. 
          -Love Your Park:  To date, Love Your Park week is still on as planned: May 9th -17th.  Our McMichael Park is registered. How would you like to help? Send me an email and let me know what you can do.  Volunteering is free!  AND AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE IN OUR COMMUNITY!  Lexy3904@gmail.com
     -Not available May 9-17th? Other days can be added for various projects which we can gladly provide assignments based on your availability. There are many projects on the schedule and the Friends of McMichael Park openly and transparently allow for participation in any and all projects.  Lexy3904@gmail.com
    -Shakespeare Live is planned for June 2020.  This summer, we are please to present a new production company, ShakespeareNJ.  This summer’s performance will be something appropriate and timely; a new production especially for us of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceasar.” Dates are set for Tuesday June 2nd with a rain date of Thursday, June 4th. (please note this is earlier than prior years so save the date.) This Shakespeare Live performance should run approximately 70 minutes and will be followed by a post-show discussion with the cast!  As we have invited everyone in the past 12 years, open air theatre, free, of course, and we encourage picnics and lawn chairs. This is the most popular of William Shakespeare’s plays  and suitable for the entire family. The Friends of McMichael Park proudly sponsor our 13th summer of free theater in McMichael Park. Thanks to FOMP/Bill Hoffner for his efforts to get this production in McMichael Park. 
     –Parks on Tap will be returning to McMichael Park in August 2020. Parks on Tap is Philadelphia’s traveling beer garden that gives back! With a partnership between Philadelphia Parks & RecreationFairmount Park Conservancy, and FCM Hospitality, Parks on Tap brings a beer garden to various parks throughout the city all summer long. Each location provides fresh food, beers on tap, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages in a festive outdoor environment with comfortable chairs, hammocks, and clean restrooms. Parks on Tap is family-friendly. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Parks on Tap kicked off in 2016 as a way to engage the Philadelphia community and give back to the neighborhood parks. A portion of all proceeds are donated to The Friends of McMichael Park to help restore and maintain our open green space.

Here are Thirteen additional ways to stay connected with McMichael Park and beyond: 

1. We have a BRAND NEW blog called McMichael Park Turtle Friends  – https://mcmichaelparkturtlefriends.com/ – Highlighting our 30 years of volunteering in McMichael Park. #FOMP30

2. Check out all updates on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfMcmichaelPark/Click Here

3.  Or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/friendsofmcmichael/?utm_source=ig_embedClick Here

4. Take a walk: Research shows that spending 20 minutes in nature can reduce stress levels. Enjoy the fresh air in your park! (Please note that Philadelphia Public Playgrounds and basketball courts are closed as of March 25th.) 

5.  Take note of your favorite nearby tree. Download the iNaturalist app and start to identify the plants and wildlife in your community! 

6.  Accepting Proposals!  Philadelphia’s community-based groups embarking on creative projects & activities that are free and open to the public are invited to apply for grants through our Creative Avenues initiative. Deadline is Friday, April10th –  http://creativephl.org/ca/

7. Explore a fun, interactive map for kids on different cool trees around the world.

8. Learn about a project in Jersey City where participants tweet for the trees for the trees have no phones.

9. Learn about the life of a tree alongside the young people in your life.

10. Watch the documentary Symphony of the Soil on Kanopy (a free movie watching service for all Free Library card holders).

11. Read or listen to Ecologist David Haskell tell the story of smells from eleven trees.

12. Watch live streams of the animals at the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the Osprey Cam from San Francisco Bay.

13. From the Philadelphia Park Alliance/Alex Doty: Think of your favorite park. What is your favorite thing to do there? Now write it down on our new Parks and Rec Defender shield

When you’ve printed out the shield and added your favorite park and activity (feel free to add some art), please post on social media with the hashtag #PPRDefenders. Be sure to tag Parks Alliance, City Council, your Councilperson, and anyone else you would like to know how much you love your park. You can also send any pictures to photos@philaparks.org or text them to 267-404-3010.

When you share this, you are letting City Council know how important your parks and rec centers are to you and to your community.

Be Safe in McMichael Park Practice Social Distancing aka Social Caring

Our amazing Friends of McMichael Park volunteer: Rich Lampert

Rich Lampert – FOMP volunteer for 27 years. Grant Writer. Tree Planter. “Tell me what you need.”

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?

It’s gratifying to see neighbors coming together behind rakes, wheelbarrows, and the like to accomplish some shared tasks that improve our park. 


What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
Working with Alexis in a meeting that resulted in funding from our State Senator for a safer electrical box we can use for events in the park. 


What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  
Making sure I completed grant applications on time, helping to fund events such as Theater in the Park.


How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?
I’m going on 27 years as a volunteer. I keep going because I pass by the park almost every day and it’s always satisfying to see that park remains beautiful and well maintained.


What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?

It’s simple: Show up and pick up whatever tool you’re offered — a pruner, a rake, whatever — and work with your neighbors. Repeat every time there’s a call for volunteers to work in the park, and then it becomes an enjoyable habit. If you like to work, you’ll fit right in. 

Our Amazing Friends of McMichael Park Volunteer: Betty Miller

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Lorax
    Dr. Seuss

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
I volunteer in McMichael Park to do something to enhance our neighborhood and make it a better place for all. By working side by side with other neighbors one gets a sense of teamwork, camaraderie and pride.

What volunteer moment are you are most proud of?

Happy to help where and when ever I can.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?  
As a senior member I am happy that I am still physically able to plant, cut or simply pick up sticks.

How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating. 
I have been a volunteer since it’s early days. I volunteer to better our community, make new friends, environmental reasons and basically help to preserve our treasured park.

What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?
I would encourage all for……
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not” …….The Lorax  by Dr. Seuss.
“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

The Lorax -Dr. Seuss

Turtle News – March 2020 “Where’s the Batter?”


“Where’s the Batter?” 

by Alexis Franklin / Coordinator Friends of McMichael Park (1990-2020)

As The Friends of McMichael Park celebrate 30  years of volunteering, we look ahead to additional volunteer participation in our neighborhood during the 2020 calendar year and beyond.

Maintaining the Park has been a labor of love for The FOMP community members, and our efforts over 30 years at rehabilitating and maintaining a pristine green park in Philadelphia have obviously brought McMichael Park to the attention of all levels of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the greater City of Philadelphia. 

Commissioner Kathryn Ott-Lovell and Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr. are now completely committed to building a playground in the park, an endeavor that would never have been initiated had McMichael Park not been elevated to the status and outstanding condition it has achieved. All solely and diligently thanks to The FOMP group. 

McMichael Park exists because of the volunteer commitments of the members in The FOMP group.  It has been restored to its original design and has become a respite from city strife and the core and epicenter of neighborhood activities. Noticeably absent from volunteer activities are those individuals who support a playground. The FOMP has always and regularly promoted open meetings, service days, theater, children’s events and clean-up activities. Everyone in the neighborhood is invited to participate. 

The volunteer events hosted by The FOMP are open to all, and are always prominently advertised as such. The FOMP has made multiple attempts to include playground supporters in volunteer events, but the loose assemblage of individuals have not participated, or moved away.  Philadelphia Parks and Recreation has been unable to provide a local point of contact for this group. 

This is very disconcerting.

It not only speaks volumes to the commitment level of these neighbors, but also because Commissioner Ott Lovell in her presentation at a recent neighborhood East Falls Community Council meeting in January stated: “You must be committed 100 percent. So ‘batter up’ and participate.”

Where is the batter?

As much as The FOMP has sought to include playground supporters in volunteer activities, this group has consistently and repeatedly failed to show up to help.  “Where is the batter?” is an oxymoron for this group.

They are not even in the ballpark.

The FOMP has hosted between five to seven volunteer events on an annual basis. These include the popular Lovelights — the annual fundraiser now in its 21st year. An event that sees The FOMP group light the Anniversary Tree in a spectacular array of red lights for Valentine’s Day. There are multiple park cleanups, bench paintings, summer story readings for children, the annual Shakespeare in the Park theater performance, pet adoptions, and summer movie nights.   

These events take time, talent, energy and money. 

The FOMP estimates that in its 30 year history it has invested the equivalent of $1.5 million USD in time, talent and energy; volunteer work in lieu of compensation, like kind contributions of sweat and creativity. In addition, The FOMP members have donated thousands of dollars consistently and without reservation to the upkeep of the park. 

The FOMP has a 30-year history of not only “stepping up to the plate,” but “knocking it out of the park” with our volunteer events, every time at bat. The Commissioner was not referring to the existing Friends of McMichael Park!

The East Falls Community Council measures support for the  playground by the clapping of hands at their meetings. This is not a popularity contest. Who from that group is stepping up to the plate?  Who is in the dugout?

The FOMP group, most recently stepped up to the plate again for the upcoming Lovelights celebration on February 14, 2020 (Valentine’s Day) and they are planning Love Your Park Activities  for May/June 2020.

Again, we look forward to your participation and invite you to get in the game. 

Visit the Friends of McMichael Park page on Facebook to keep track all upcoming events in McMichael Park: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfMcmichaelPark/

As part of our Thirty year celebration: please connect with our page highlighting our individuals with reflections from our humble beginnings. #FOMP30  https://mcmichaelparkturtlefriends.com/
Save the Date! Love Your Park Week
May 9 – 17, 2020
Love Light/2020 Volunteers raised $1200.00 with generous donations from our community.(l-r) Peter Logan, Christina Kistler, Robert Robinowitz, Alexis Franklin, Beth Gross-Eskin and John-david Franklin
Love Your Park starts planing now!
Mark your calendars as events are starting in McMichael Park during this year’s Love Your Park Week! Need some inspiration? Check out past events here that were held in McMichael Park and other parks.  Stay tune for more information to follow in the coming month. 

Registration for Park Friends will open on March 2nd.

Please join in for the next PFN meeting on March 11th from 5:30-7:30pm at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, 100 N. Horticultural Dr (click here for map). As always, up to three members of your Friends Group are invited to attend! If interested in attending…Contact Alexis Franklin: Lexy3904@gmail.com

We will be serving dinner at 5:30 and start the meeting promptly at 6:00, covering several important topics, including:Love Your Park Week | May 9 – 17!PFN Registration 2020 RecapPreview of new Love Your Park WebsitePark Friends Activity Report raffle*We will provide a free shuttle to the Horticulture Center, leaving from 1515 Arch Street at 5:15pm and returning to the same location afterwards.
WHEN 

Wednesday, March 11th
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

WHERE
Fairmount Park Horticulture Center
100 N. Horticultural Dr 
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Amazing Friends of McMichael Park volunteer: Geoff Brock

What did you love about volunteering in McMichael Park?
Sense of community.  Interacting with my neighbors. Seeing results as the condition and beauty of the park continued to improve.
What volunteer moment are you most proud of?
Keeping Alexis from murdering Mike DiBerardinis, then Recreation Commissioner, even though he deserved it.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome regarding being a park volunteer?
Aside from getting older, none.  But we do need more young folks to receive the torch.  Those that come out now are an encouragement.
How many years did you volunteer in McMichael Park and what inspired you to keep participating?
Since the 1980s.  This is our community.  While the City has responsibility for it, we know that for many reasons, the City will not provide satisfactory services for maintaining this space.  The photos I took in 1984 convincingly make this point.  Nothing is sustainable without on-going commitment of creativity, materials and labor.  This is what we, together, bring to this park.  I occasionally look at the old photos and get encouraged by the current condition of the park.  There’s still more to do, though.
What advice do you have for other friends/volunteers?
First, go into the park often and enjoy it. Communicate with each other about what you see.  This could be something positive you wish to share or a sprig of poison ivy that needs to be pulled out.  Get on the social media sites for the park.  Back when the park was somewhat of an unmaintained hell hole, people tended not to go in there. Consequently, it attracted dumping, sketchy characters (including a murder), etc.  With community members regularly in the park, it tends to discourage abuse.  And while you’re there, feel free to pick up a few fallen branches and place them by a trash can.  

McMichael Park – 1984. Grass was sky high. The bushes around the War Memorial required the FOMP volunteers to prune and maintain annually. Eventually they were removed.

Geoff continues to volunteer in McMichael Park.  Photo from Spring/2019 Love Your Park Service Day.
McMichael Park – 1984. Trash cans were overflowing which attracted rodents. The FOMP pruned all trees twenty feet from the base for safety reasons. Park usage increased as the Friends continued to maintain.