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or the past 18 years, Jody Della Barba has been restructuring Girard Estate one block at a time. The 61-year-old has resided in the cherished neighborhood since she was threeyears-old. The 2500 block of South 18th Street resident has been as a member of the Girard Estate Area Residents civic group since 1992, and since â&#x20AC;&#x2122;98, has held the position of president. Her duties on the neighborhood board include preserving parks, reconstructing sidewalks, creating events, and ensuring neighborhood safety. In 2009, the Columbus Day Parade, one of Girard Estates biggest events of the year, was cut due to low funding. With help from former City Council president Anna Verna, and Peter Ciarrocchi, owner of Chickieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s & Peteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, they formed the 1492 Society, which is the board that now funds the majority of the expenses for the neighborhoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual celebration. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The mayor started charging money that was never charged before,â&#x20AC;? Della Barba said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was always a city parade. With the help of Congressman [Bob] Brady, he started the tradition fund when we had to cancel. It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just me, it was a bunch of people who helped.â&#x20AC;? Della Barba has maintained connections with state representatives and councilmen to help to improve the area, with Brady, who paid for $17,000 worth or funds for trash cleanup for the Columbus Day Parade, and Second District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who originally promised to donate $50,000, and came

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back with approximately $350,000, as big benefactors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was a gift from Heaven,â&#x20AC;? Della Barba said of the latter contribution. G.E.A.R. has also built a relationship with St. Monicaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, 2422 S. 17th St., where Della Barba attended school growing up. The local Roman Catholic church hosts neighborhood meetings for important issues and with the help of the civic, which helps bring children to clean parks in the neighborhood. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The park and St. Monicaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s are essential places. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not treated as a religious place, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like a community center,â&#x20AC;? Della Barba said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The kids come and help clean up the parks, and we hold festivals there. We all work hand-in-hand.â&#x20AC;? Next spring, Della Barba plans to repave sidewalks surrounding public parks and schools to ensure the safety of children and local residents. She also hopes to bring in new shops around Oregon Avenue to bring in more revenue to the neighborhood. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The people are wonderful and the schools are wonderful,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a unique and historic neighborhood in South Philadelphia. Where I live is the greatest place in the world.â&#x20AC;?

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s far as enthusiasm for oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s block, neighborhood, school catchment and city, Jennifer Devorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s blend of optimism is contagious. And though it all started in Lake Hiawatha, NJ with her mother as an example, her local leadership began when she matriculated at the University of the Arts College of Media and Communications and caught the Philly activist bug. The six-year resident of the 1500 block of South Carlisle Street has been volunteering and working in several arenas of civic leadership and shows no signs of slowing down. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have this empowering and yet overwhelming life philosophy of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;If not you, then who?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; If I see a challenge or an opportunity that will positively affect the people I love, the people of my community, then I have to take it,â&#x20AC;? she said. Devorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the board secretary for Diversified Community Services, a board member of Neighbors Invested in Childs Elementary (NICE), a committee person in the 36th ward of the 37th voting division, and a block captain in her neck of Point Breeze. Diversified is especially near and dear to her, saying they â&#x20AC;&#x153;provide leader-

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ad he not felt a calling to the priesthood, Rev. John Deegan, rather than having OSA after his name to signify his allegiance to the Order of St. Augustine, would have penned DDS on business cards and correspondence. Deciding to leave tending to teeth to others, he elected to lead individuals to Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s light, with the last 11 years going toward strengthening struggling locals through the Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The face of poverty is diverse, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s of the utmost importance never to stigmatize and always to recognize the dignity of everyone and the beauty of every creation of God,â&#x20AC;? the 80-year-old said from his brainchildâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s headquarters within St. Edmondâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parish, 2130 S. 21st St. ADROP has conducted operations through the West Passyunk site for two years, with Deegan citing its creation as a direct response to Catholicismâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fundamental option for the poor principle. Dealing with working families in need of corporeal and spiritual comfort, it has benefited more than 1,000 clans through Deegan and a committed collection of volunteers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Church calls for dedication to the human family, and we all need to become educated on that and cease judgments over a personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s or a groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s misfortune,â&#x20AC;? the priest, an alumnus of Villanova University and director of the justice and peace office for the province of Saint Thomas of Villanova, said of holding hope for an increase in compassion and companionship. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Philadelphia, because of its Augustinian heritage, that need becomes

ship and opportunities to strengthen the Point Breeze communitiesâ&#x20AC;? through services provided by the Dixon Settlement House, Tasker Village, the Mamie Nichols Center, and the Keystone daycares they support â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Dixon Learning Academy and Western Learning Center (the latter of which being where she and her husband, Tivoni, send their two-and-a-half-yearold daughter, Ava). As for NICE, she said she â&#x20AC;&#x153;heard all these terrible rumors about Philly public schools, but then [when I] actually knew these kids who went to G.W. Childs, it just didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t add up. The right story wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t being told about our schools.â&#x20AC;? Everyone wants to help the school, and the help comes from every possible neighborhood demographic. As a committee person, a role she went for after a yearlong political fellowship at the Center for Progressive Leadership, she does her best to educate and mobilize voters so that they can enact change. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If enough people come out and demand change, it will happen. And you demand that change with your vote,â&#x20AC;? she said. She eagerly puts together the Devor Report with her voting picks and reasoning every year, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grown from something she gives to her friends to a 200-deep newsletter readership. As block captain, she argues that sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just the formal head of block teamwork and that everyone does the work â&#x20AC;&#x201C; sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s liason for things like permitting and 311 accountability. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is our home, not just our physical house but the block, the division, the Point Breeze neighborhood,â&#x20AC;? she stressed. @Sd8]V\2SSUO\ â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really wonderful.â&#x20AC;?

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South Philly Review 10-8-2015  

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South Philly Review 10-8-2015  

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