Originally appeared here.
The Prince Hall Alumni Foundation (PHAF) celebrated a brand new fence that was supplied and installed, completely free, to their Martha C. Young community playground, on May 2.
The six-foot fence, valued at $8,500 for labor and materials, was donated by the Iron Workers Union Local No. 401 and installed by contractor Erik Sims of E C Fence and Iron Works.
The Prince Hall Masons of Holmesburg Lodge #137 also donated $1300 for the regular upkeep of the playground.
“We are elated that we were thought of so much to get the fence labor and materials donated,” said Sharon Patton-Thaxton, a PHAF executive member. “We needed a fence because the kids tore it down.”
PHAF built the playground two years ago to provide a play space for students of the Prince Hall Elementary School and community youth. But the kids were so excited to have the space that they wore through the initial fence, said PHAF President Sterlen Barr. Replacing it would have added to the $4,000 a year PHAF has to already pay in regular maintenance.
“The kids could climb over it, so all the wear and tear broke it down. It showed they wanted to be inside the playground,” said Barr. “We needed something stronger and higher but we couldn’t afford it. We are a small nonprofit and all our money is from fundraising and donations.”
Last year, Barr reached out to the Prince Hall Masons – Holmesburg Lodge #137 for help. The Masons responded by raising funds and searching among their contacts to see who could donate the fence.
“We do charitable work as all masons do,” said Frontis Cue, senior warden of the lodge. “When they told me they were paying rent, even when it’s closed, I said, ‘Wow that’s crazy,’ because they are a non-profit. So my grandmaster gave us permission to solicit funds from each lodge in Pennsylvania.”
The Lodge raised $1300 for regular playground expenses and then connected PHAF with the Iron Workers Union Local 401.
“My union bought the materials,” said Steven Alexander, business agent for Local 401. “We always do community projects but mainly in Fairmount and Mayfair, and for me to see the fence on Ogontz everyday, it’s just the right thing to do.”
Alexander said it is ironic the project was presented to him by the masons, because it hit close to home.
“I often ride that way on my way home and I see it in disrepair and say, ‘Man that’s horrible,’ and thought no more about it,” said Alexander. “[Eventually] I got a call asking me to help with this project and I said, ‘Wow.’ I went to a couple meetings and saw how organized PHAF was and committed to the community, so I told them my union would donate the fence.”
Cedrick Brown, a father who lives across the street from the playground, said he is grateful the organization came together to build the fence.
“It brings a sense of security,” he said. “I can let my kid go outside — where it’s just kids and I know where they are. To know the playground is gated up, makes me feel better as a parent.”