Doris Steegmueller Lynch contemplated the idea of creating a neighborhood group since January and, two months ago, her dream became a reality.
The Port Richmond Neighbors Association hosted its inaugural meeting on Monday, Sept. 9 and is gearing up for its December meeting, which will feature a festive pizza party and making crafts for the residents at Nativity Place B.V.M., 3255 Belgrade St.
The group is open to anyone living in Port Richmond, with boundaries stretching from Lehigh Avenue to Castor Avenue, to the Delaware River to Frankford Avenue.
The group is currently exploring which option to pursue to obtain official recognition from the city as a community group.
With two existing civic associations in the neighborhood, PROPAC and SOPO, Lynch said there’s no intent to “step on anyone’s toes.”
“We should want to bring unity to Port Richmond that’s lacking,” she said.
The first three meetings have drawn anywhere from two dozen to nearly 75 people, according to Lynch.
Currently, monthly meetings are held at Cohox Recreation Center, 2901 Cedar St., but Lynch is open to different locations in the future.
“What we’re planning is maybe three months at one location, three months at another location, and divide it up in the area because a lot of people walk and they can’t make it,” she said. “So, we want to spread it out so everyone has access.”
Guest speakers and organizations present at the meetings have included the 24th Police District, Philadelphia Corporation of Aging, Philly Fixers Guild, the Philadelphia Streets Department, local churches, and the Port Richmond Business Alliance.
“Just connecting the churches, local businesses, and the neighbors at the neighborhood association meeting is the goal,” Lynch said. “Uniting the neighborhood in every way possible and focusing on positivity is the goal.”
Part of that connection comes in the form of gift cards.
“Each month, there are two businesses that donate gift cards that are chanced off at the end of each meeting,” Lynch said. “The businesses have been so kind in donating. And, it gives an incentive to come. We’re trying to take away from the dullness of coming to a meeting.”
Businesses that have donated include A Cut Above, Donna’s Bar, Gaul and Co. Malthouse, Lure Salon, Nemi’s, and Tacconelli’s Pizzeria.
As president, Lynch reaches out to the businesses, but one day, she hopes to turn over the reigns.
“For a neighborhood of over 25,000 people, the more unity we can get, the better,” Lynch said. “My main purpose is to get it going and then try to get the younger generation to step up and be the board.”
Ultimately, coming together to make positive changes in the neighborhood is the underlying goal.
“It’s not just hearing about the negativity of the neighborhood and complaining about it, when we come together, we find something everyone agrees on and we all work on it together,” Lynch said. “And, then, the next meeting, we talk about how far we’ve come with that issue in the neighborhood.”
Issues tackled have included getting a pothole at Thompson and Cambria streets reported and filled and having street lights replaced.
“We’re all neighbors. People have become friends in just these past three meetings,” Lynch said. “The friendships that are happening so quickly are so nice. Any way to unite a neighborhood is a plus.”
Port Richmond Neighbors Association meets the first Monday of each month at Cohox at 7 p.m.
For details about the group, email firstname.lastname@example.org.