De Angel, originally from Puerto Rico, grew up with a fascination for nature. But the more she discovered trash, the more she felt compelled to take action.
"We need to see how can we reduce litter and raw sewage entering our waterways during heavy storm events," she said.
De Angel is the Community Watershed Leader at the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF), which was founded in the early 2000s as a non-profit to handle these issues.
"Our mission is to really connect the people in the community of this area to this creek and to this watershed," she said. "And we do that through advocacy and education through activities like what we did today with cleanups."
TTF relies on volunteers to accomplish both large and small tasks. This is especially true when it comes to the once-neglected Jenkintown Creek. TTF has raised almost $2 million for projects here with the help of other community organizations. Restoration sites have been installed in cooperation with schools, religious institutions, and other municipalities.
"By increasing the surface area for water to collect and be absorbed into the ground, you're then, in essence, helping to reduce stormwater runoff flowing into the creek and making its way down here," said De Angel.
Jenkintown Creek feeds into the Tookany Creek, which becomes the Tacony Creek and then Frankford Creek before emptying into the Delaware River.
Today, members of TTF partnered with Bennett Compost at Tacony Creek Park for their weekly cleanup effort.
"We collect food scraps all around the city, returning organic matter to the soil," said Product Lead Devin Green. "We have been at this site for a little over a year and it just makes sense for us to, once a week, come clean up the park."
Community members hope their stewardship will set an example for passersby and inspire a cleaner, healthier future.
"We're hoping to foster better behavior changes and hopefully increase volunteerism in the community to improve our waterways, improve our green spaces," said De Angel. "We can't do this on our own."
To learn more about the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership or Bennett Compost, visit their websites.
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