Getting Their Feet Wet

Rachel Rosenfeld, a citizen scientist, measures phosphate levels for Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association’s Creek Watch program near Valley Green Inn in Fairmount Park. | Photo by Christian Hunold

Volunteers wade in to monitor the Wissahickon

Rachel Rosenfeld crunched her way through the ice near the shore to get to where she could drop her thermometer into the Wissahickon Creek, just upstream from the Valley Green Inn. Fishing it out of the near-freezing water would hurt, but you need measurements throughout the year to draw a complete picture of the Creek. Rosenfeld, along with other volunteers checking 35 sections of the Wissahickon and its tributaries, visits monthly to check on its health, even in the cold months.

You cannot step into the same river or creek twice, which makes it hard to monitor water quality. The flow at any given moment is a mix of rainwater, groundwater and whatever chemicals have been washed in from the land or generated by life in the river. Any water sample you take is a snapshot, but the more snapshots you get, the better you can understand the state of the creek.

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Volunteer with PowerCorpsPHL on MLK Day

Photo courtesy PowerCorpsPHL

What a better way to honor and celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering? On Jan. 19, PowerCorpsPHL, a new AmeriCorps program, is hosting three volunteer opportunities around the city, where you can honor the legacy of a man who dedicated his life to serving communities. The following is a list of sites where you can find PowerCorpsPHL crews giving back on Monday:

Organization: Teen Harmony/TEN2gether
: Athletic Recreation Center, 1400 North 26th St.
: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Teen Harmony aims to provide social change and environmental gain. This year's project will feature a discussion on Youth Violence, cleaning out the basement of the rec center, mural painting, a food and clothes drive, and a small art show.

Organization: Wharton Recreation Center
: Wharton Recreation Center, 2300 Wharton St.
: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Volunteers of all ages are welcome to come out to the Wharton Recreation Center to clean and paint the building. Lunch will be provided.

Organization: Vare Recreation Center
: Vare Recreation Center, 2600 Morris St.
: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The team at the Vare Recreation Center needs your help in revitalizing their space for underserved teens. They will be cleaning, painting, moving furniture, and hanging blinds. The center serves 25 to 40 teens from the Grays Ferry area every day and, with our help, can continue to keep kids off the streets.

More about PowerCorpsPHL from its website:

PowerCorpsPHL is an innovative, new AmeriCorps program designed to address Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Governor Tom Corbett’s environmental stewardship initiatives as well as the City of Philadelphia’s youth workforce development and violence prevention priorities. Partnering with EducationWorks and the Philadelphia Youth Network, PowerCorpsPHL will annually enroll 100 individuals, ages 18-26, in a 9-month program: 6 months of full-time service as AmeriCorps members with City departments followed by 3 months of intensive job placement support.


Over the next three years, PowerCorpsPHL will plant 3,000 trees, revitalize 3,000 acres of public land, educate 18,000 residents in watershed preservation, and connect 300 young adults to meaningful employment, post-secondary enrollment, or continued national service.

All Together Now: Sunday Suppers seeks to revive the lost practice of the family dinner.

It can be tempting to reduce the issue of hunger to a statistics game. For example, the 1st Congressional District (which includes Kensington, as well as parts of North and South Philadelphia and Chester) is the fourth hungriest in the nation, and in 2010, some 31.2 percent of residents reported difficulty feeding themselves or their families. That’s down from 36 percent in 2009, but still much higher than the national average of 18 percent.
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Serve Philadelphia

In September 2010 the city launched SERVE Philadelphia, an online database that allows users to enter their age, interests and skill sets to find volunteer opportunities that are personally fulfilling and beneficial to the community. The site is part of Mayor Michael Nutter’s SERVE Philadelphia Act and his role with the Cities of Service Coalition, a bipartisan organization of mayors who have all signed a “Declaration of Service.” 
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