Left to right: Daniel Bhaumik, Kevin Malley, Kirsten Brown, and Martin Williams of ASCE Philadelphia Younger Members Forum, Volunteer Leader Awardee, Julie Slavet, TTF Watershed Partnership Executive Director, Ryan Neuman, TTF Upstream Conservation Leader
Contact: Julie Slavet, Executive Director FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phone: (215) 380-5380 October 25, 2023
Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership Announces
12th Annual Watershed Milestones Award Winners
PHILADELPHIA, PA October 25, 2023 – Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) celebrated watershed heroes for the twelfth year at its Annual Watershed Milestones Ceremony on the evening of October 18, 2023. The ceremony recognized ten local individuals and organizations who have supported clean water efforts in the TTF watershed community. Honorees are now part of a community of over 100 people, organizations, institutions, and businesses that have been honored for improving the health of the impaired 30-square-mile watershed they share.
TTF Executive Director, Julie Slavet, provided opening remarks and expressed TTF’s respect for the original stewards of the watershed, the Lenape, and the need to take responsibility for their removal and genocide. She expressed our thanks that the names Tookany and Tacony are from a Lenape word for woods or hidden space.
Slavet also expressed special thanks to Steve Gest and Steve Goldstein, founders of an organization that was a precursor to TTF, saying: “We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, like our two Steves. They were our first Milestones heroes, we just didn’t know it yet! They were trailblazers and advocates for TTF creeks in the 1970s, making a lasting impact that we are benefitting from today. Their generosity, along with that of an anonymous donor, created both a paid intern program and a significant investment in TTF’s future.”
Attendees heard from Shawn McCaney, Executive Director of William Penn Foundation. “A healthy Delaware River watershed is something that has been especially important to the William Penn Foundation over the last 10 years. To that end, we’ve been privileged to support TTF Watershed Partnership in so much of their work for both nature and people. They have not only worked tirelessly with many partners to improve water quality within their 30 square miles, but they have also been successful in thoughtfully reaching and connecting with their neighbors who live in some of the most diverse communities in Philadelphia, understanding that communities thrive when they have access to clean, safe, and accessible natural spaces.”
- Eric Blacksten, Friend Award: Eric is a Tacony Creek Park neighbor who visits the park for enjoyment, and to commute to and from work. Blacksten repaired benches in Tacony Creek Park that had been broken for decades. Park visitors now have places to sit down, rest, and enjoy nature.
- Izaak Walton League (IWL), Educator Award. The League has been an extraordinary champion and defender of the nation’s soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife for over 100 years. As the only organization training, equipping, and coordinating water quality volunteers to ensure our water is safe on a national scale, the League has provided TTF with exemplary Salt Watch tools, support, and training to measure road salt in our streams and educate neighbors and leaders about this threat. TTF Salt Watch volunteers have participated in annual Salt Blitzes since 2019, enabling us to share information through a Road Salt Factsheet and testimony at a Philadelphia City Council hearing.
- The American Society of Civil Engineers Philadelphia Younger Member Forum (ASCE YMF), Volunteer Leader. ASCE YMF supports ASCE Philadelphia Section members under 36 years of age. The YMF provides networking opportunities, interaction with schools and the general public to promote civil engineering, and enhances career development. The YMF has been a valuable stewardship partner to TTF, bringing volunteers to enthusiastically dig holes, and plant and fence trees, from Friends Hospital Campus in Frankford to a backyard in Abington. ACSE YMF also provides financial support to TTF.
- Feliz Filadelphia, Nonprofit Steward Award. Feliz began as “Born To Play,” a baseball program for Olney youth. By renovating the abandoned clubhouse at the Hammond Avenue fields (adjacent to Tacony Creek Park), Feliz expanded their original mission by adding exercise programs for adults. Although maintaining its Latino roots, Feliz Filadelfia offers programming for everyone. While focused on Olney, Feliz welcomes participants from throughout the city. Feliz Filadelphia supports TTF cleanups and park programs. This group is a model steward of the Hammond fields. TTF looks forward to partnering on environmental education programs and creating a link between the fields and Tacony Creek Park for the benefit of neighbors.
- EY, Corporate Steward Award. EY is one of the biggest accounting firms in the U.S. In 2022, the Philadelphia office volunteered in Tacony Creek Park for Earth Day. EY employees have consistently partnered with TTF on a number of clean-up and storm drain marking activities since then.
- James Morawski, Public Leader. James, or Jimmy to Tacony Creek Park locals, has been a Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Seasonal Maintenance Attendant at the Ferko Playground and the area leading to the Tacony Creek Park gateway at I Street and Ramona Avenue for many years. Morawksi takes incredible pride in his work, and the cleanliness of the park reflects that; he makes the park, neighborhood, and city a better place to live.
- Drini Hamza, Youth Champion. An Abington Friends School (AFS) senior, Drini removed deer fencing and invasive plants at TTF’s very first restoration project along Jenkintown Creek as his Eagle Scout service project. TTF’s first Delaware River Watershed Initiative project in 2014, this award-winning work continued along this creek reach for a number of years, consisting of rain gardens and riparian buffers. Hamza saw the need for maintenance at this site and worked with TTF to develop a plan and gather the information and resources needed. He recruited volunteers from AFS, his friends, troop, and family to lead the activities.
- Jermaine Ridley, Youth Champion. A consistent volunteer, Jermaine shows up often for Tacony Creek Park cleanups and works hard to keep the park and gateways clean and appealing to potential visitors. Ridley is a model steward for TTF and inspires other volunteers through his hard work and determination.
- Susan Myerov, Legacy Award. Founding Board member Susan Myerov, enthusiastically served on the TTF Board for 18 years, most as Secretary, and a couple as President and Co-President. Myerov was dedicated, rarely missing a Board or committee meeting or a special event, and lent a hand and smile at plantings, cleanups, and community celebrations. Myerov’s presence had a positive impact on staff and strengthened her ability to serve as a knowledgeable Ambassador. She talked to everyone about TTF’s accomplishments. Myerov referred organizations to TTF to speak at an event or conference, or to discuss a potential partnership and shared grant and program information regularly. She generously supported TTF and recruited family and friends. Myerov would request a deep dive into financials at Board meetings, showing a sign of good stewardship. Her thoughtfulness and deep investment over the years have made TTF a better organization.
- Jay Coreano, Legacy Award. Jay and his family – his wife, children, and cousins – are part of the TTF family. TTF connected with Jay during the summer of 2019, when he was selected as the artist for the Community Cans project. Coreano has inspired TTF with his creativity, warmth, curiosity, and passion. He has become a Tacony Creek Park champion in his family, with work colleagues, with the business and artist community, and with anyone he meets in the park. During COVID, Coreano painted six strikingly colorful animal murals at busy spots along the trail, engaging with everyone who passed by, and enabling TTF to maintain a human presence. Coreano created places for people to gather and raised up this neglected green space through art. People still “meet at the deer” at Bingham and Ashdale Streets.
Jay conceived of and coordinated the annual Birds of a Feather Earth Day art event to celebrate the VURT Collective bird murals in the park. Coreano also led the River Alive Learning Trail mosaic community days and created beautiful rain poetry on the walkways. TTF recently installed six of the Community Cans in Tacony Creek Park – the first trash cans in the park in years. Jay volunteered his time to create new colorful and inspiring can covers. Coreano received the Legacy Award because of his devotion to TTF work and Tacony Creek Park.
About the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership
TTF connects watershed residents to their creeks. Through hands-on education, stewardship, restoration, and advocacy, TTF empowers watershed constituents to take care of and improve the impaired waterways, parks, and trails across its 30 square miles. Working with neighbors, TTF has planted thousands of native trees, shrubs, and flowers along creeks and in rain gardens at schools, parks, places of worship, and even backyards to slow down and clean pollution before it enters creeks. TTF uses lots of tools to share a love for water and nature with people of all ages and to show how we can all make a difference.