Good Times: How New Young Friends of Fairmount Group Engages Neighborhood Newcomers
Matt Candela, who moved to the Fairmount area two years ago, can easily list the reasons he enjoys living in his neighborhood.
“The location is great - it’s near Kelly Drive, Center City and has bars and restaurants that are laid-back,” said Candela, 33. “It has a neighborhood feel.”
And wiffle ball at the Eastern State Penitentiary
isn't bad, either.
This past winter, the Fairmount Community Development Corporation
created the Young Friends of Fairmount
, engaging residents under 40 years old with various community-building events such as happy hours and comedy showcases. Field day events - including wiffle ball held on the grounds of the neighborhood’s 183-year-old attraction - give participants a chance to play some of the prisoners’ pastimes, such as bocce ball.
Young, single professionals flock to Fairmount, according to Kiplinger
, which rated Philadelphia as one of the top-10 cities for singles. Fairmount CDC realizes that in order to ensure the area continues to thrive, they need to engage the young people who have decided to call the area home.
“It’s allowing young people to get more involved in the neighborhood in the ways in which young people get involved,” said Naomi Roberson, the former Community Projects Director for the CDC. “So our whole thing is service, social and sports.”
Although the CDC has over 600 Facebook
likes and an email list with over 2,000 subscribers, a challenge is getting the word out to residents. For example, Candela - who saw flyers around the neighborhood for the events but had never heard of YFF - said that even though there are a lot of groups for young people in the city, it’s “nice to have something specifically for the neighborhood.”
“It’s never been so easy to get your message out and never so hard, with all the different blogs and different Facebook pages, websites and email lists,” said Rebecca Johnson, CDC’s Executive Director.
The CDC wants the YFF to be sustainable. They are recruiting Neighborhood Ambassadors to assist with organizing events and the next goal is to incorporate the neighborhood’s elderly residents.
The wiffle ball home run derby and field day at Eastern State formally wrapped up YFF's summer activities. But the group's Ambassadors are already planning a clean-up day and happy hour for Lemon Hill trail this fall.
“It’s trying to improve quality of life and engage people,” said Johnson. “So we’re just getting the young professionals off the ground and then thinking of ways we can integrate some of our seniors into activities and connect them with youth.”
ZENOVIA CAMPBELL is a Master of Journalism student at Temple University and lives in South Philly. Send feedback here.