Local residents help keep Phila. beautiful

HUNTING PARK - October 2, 2011

When Emma Holmes moved to the 4000 block of Darien Street, she couldn't get to know any of her neighbors because everybody was afraid and stayed inside.

"People were selling drugs in front of your door and you didn't want them to so you really didn't want to come outside at that time," said Holmes.

Holmes and several others decided to confront the drug dealers.

"I told them they should have some respect for people. They don't live on this block, they shouldn't be on this block because we are hard working people who have to get up," said Holmes.

Others in the neighborhood respect her boldness.

"When Emma speaks everyone listens to her. She's very vocal," said Sharon King.

Holmes was elected block captain and began organizing clean-ups and parties. Later, she entered Darien Street in the Philadelphia More Beautiful Clean Block Contest.

"It's seven of us. They call us the magnificent seven because we try to pull the block together. We get out and we get things done," said King.

Getting things done is exactly what they did.

People young and old repaired, painted and decorated the abandoned houses. They also cleaned the streets.

"There's a lot of bad stuff happening. Just for us to do everything for kids is a beautiful thing," said Jason Howard, a resident on the street.

In just three short weeks, the block was transformed.

"It's a welcome surprise to see the hard work they've done," said Sylvia Gallen, a contest judge.

Many of the judges for the contest were impressed with how everything came together.

"This is a block that's gone through a lot of problems but somehow they stuck together," said Leon Glover, a contest judge.

About 30 city blocks entered the contest. The winners will be revealed Nov 4.

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