PHILADELPHIA — June 19 was definitely sunny in Philadelphia, due to more than the weather. Close to 500 smiling faces came to eat and play at the St. Francis Inn’s annual block party. The inn, the soup kitchen that has served Philadelphia’s poorest for more than 30 years, provided food, activities, and volunteers for the party, held on the 1800 block of Hagert Street in the Kensington District.
A large percentage of the partygoers were families — many regular guests of the Inn — celebrating Father’s Day. Katie Sullivan, executive director of theFranciscan Volunteer Ministry, which has a chapter at the inn, said that many of the families “stayed longer” than in previous years to celebrate with their fathers. Activities included face painting, sidewalk chalk drawing, pony rides, dancing, and a limbo contest.
The event was run by a team of dedicated volunteers, including Xavier De la Huerta, OFM, and Michael Duffy, OFM, full-time staff at the inn, and Patrick Tuttle, OFM, of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Greenville, S.C., who served as the deejay. Also among the volunteers were 16 current members and alumni of FVM, and a high school youth group from Wisconsin that rearranged its travel plans to be in Philadelphia the day of the block party, Sullivan said.
Volunteers set up, served a meal — including chicken, corn bread, potato salad, and ice cream sandwiches — and, most importantly, visited with the guests. The event was an enjoyable day of hospitality and community, Sullivan said.
The block party tradition began within the first few years after the founding of the inn in 1979. A motorcycle club of 40 to 50 members called the inn to ask if the entire group could spend a day volunteering. At that time, the inn’s facilities were too small to hold a volunteer staff of that size, Sullivan said. But the club insisted that all of their members come, and the annual block party was born. The parties have been successes every year since then, and will hopefully bring sunny smiles to more faces in the years to come.
— Vicky Wolak is a summer intern in the Province’s Communications Office.