The impact of Philadelphia’s block captains spans across neighborhoods, generations, ethnicities and backgrounds. The impact isn’t simply measured in the number of Saturday morning cleanings or beautification projects each spearheads. Block captains can often be counted on for organizing a variety of programming, and connecting neighbors to much needed resources. Their efforts have transformed vacant lots into gardens and sitting areas, created safe spaces for children to play, and established best practices for helping fellow neighbors maintain their properties. It is a thankless job as block captains and recruited volunteers sometimes labor without reward.
On Friday, November 5th, Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee and city officials, highlighted the efforts of countless block captains from all across the city, and honored the top four winners of the annual citywide Clean Block Contest. The awards were presented at the Clean Block Contest banquet following the end of a busy season of block cleaning and beatification efforts. The blocks in the contest were judged for engagement of block residents, cleanliness, beautification efforts, and property improvements. .
Eleven entries were submitted for the 2021 competition, more than a 50% decrease from previous years, due to COVID. In addition to bragging rights for a year, participants received a monetary award to use towards a future beautification project or cleaning effort.
The top four winners of 2021 are:
- 1700 block of Stocker Street (South Philly), 1st PLACE – $1,000
- 100 East Colonial Street (East Oak Lane / Melrose Park), 2nd PLACE – $ 700
- 700 block of North 40th Street (West Philly), 3rd PLACE – $ 500
- 700 block of Marlyn Road (Wynnefield), 4TH PLACE – $300
The following streets also participated in the contest and were awarded $150 each:
- Unit W. Duval Street
- 600 S. 57th Street
- 2500 Salmon Street
- 2600 Oakdale Street
- 4900 Crystal Street
- 5000 Pulaski Avenue
- 7200 Guyer Avenue
In addition to the Clean Block Awards, three residents were presented Community Spirit Awards, recognizing the special contributions PMBC block captains, their neighbors and junior block captains make in their communities. The three categories – Junior Block Captain of the Year Award, the Transformation Award for Beautification Projects, and the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Award – represent organized blocks maintaining livability, recapturing their strength, and working to keep their block free of blight.
The 2021 Community Spirit Awardees are:
- Anward Alcide of the 5000 block of Pulaski Avenue, Junior Block Captain of the Year
- Peggy Edmunds, of the 100 block of North 61st Street, Neighbors Helping Neighbors Award
- The 700 block of East Willard Street, Neighborhood Transformation Award, presented to block captain Reinaldo Cruz-Pagan
Through the PMBC network, more than 6,500 block captains participate in programming throughout the year, promoting civic pride, public safety, and neighborhood empowerment among block captains, community group leaders and their units.