Tioga United grew out of Tioga Residents’ efforts to organize a neighborhood festival called Unity Day back in 1996. This festival offered neighbors, businesses, clergy and people out of all ages and races to get together, celebrate and share information. The successful event has been repeated every year, and now attracts as many as 1000 people.
After hosting five very successful consecutive Unity Days, the volunteers involved in organizing the event began to recognize the need for more than a festival. Residents began to approach them for help with various needs, so in 2001 the volunteers formed a 501C3 under the name of Tioga United with the slogan “Rebuilding Our Community One Step at a Time.” As Tioga United, members continued hosting annual Unity Day festivals and started Tioga Seniors in Action (TSA). They also began holding monthly community planning meetings. In these meetings, open to all residents, the group focused on issues that have plagued the community such as vacant lots, safety, youth, lack of recreation, etc. As a result of the meetings, the need for many sub-committees became evident. Sub-committees such as Economic Development, Community Enhancement, Youth and Recreation, Zoning and others were established. Each committee was assigned to take on various projects. As the organization grew, the board and membership also grew, with greater numbers of residents recognizing the importance of having an organization working to achieve the needs of the community. Through Tioga United, residents are starting to feel as though they are a part of the regrowth of their own community.
Tioga has been recertified by the Philadelphia City Planning Commissions as a blighted neighborhood in need of transformation. To address this situation, Tioga United partnered with the City of Philadelphia’s neighborhood transformation Initiative (NTI) program and began to help get rid of some of the blight in the community be cleaning alleys, cleaning vacant lots, painting graffiti, posting signs about dumping and hosting greening projects. This was very successful along with vacant, blighted property demolitions and the City’s removal of abandoned cars. From this initiative, Tioga United developed more relationships with various agencies, community groups, public officials and city agencies.
Tioga United has received several small grants for a number of successful projects. For example, in October 2004, through funding from KaBOOM! and Home Depot, Tioga United was able to hold a one day build for the only recreation space for neighborhood youth. Many residents took part in this one day build and the playground has been restored to a beautiful, safe place for area children.
Tioga United has also sponsored community newsletters enabling the residents to keep updated on area happenings. We have established a mailing list of hundreds of residents, local businesses and clergy. Tioga United uses its mailing list to spread information about upcoming events, zoning issues, new development and other much needed information. The community also has several strong community organizations, service organizations and strong Block Clubs that are all striving for the betterment of Tioga. Area organizations and stakeholders with which Tioga United partners include:
PNC Bank, New Courtland Elder Services, Temple University Center for Social Policy and Community Development, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, State Representative Rosita Youngblood, State Representative Leslie Acosta, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries of Philadelphia, Allegheny West Foundation, Congressman Chaka Fattah, State Senator Shirley Kitchen, State Representative Jewell Williams, LP Group, Hunting Park Business Association, Preferred Realty, Tasty Baking Co., Body of Christ Ministry, Gaudenzia Inc., Office of Housing & Community Development, Department of Licenses & Inspections, Department of Recreation, North 22nd Street Business Association, Salvation Army, Nicetown CDC, COLT Coalition, Kenderton Elementary School, Grover Cleveland Elementary School, Elizabeth Gillespie Middle School, Simon Gratz High School, Murrell Dobbins High School, Randolph Technical High School, Mercy Vocational High School, 39th Police District.
We incorporated in 2001 and hosted over (12) successful Unity Day festivals to promote Unity within the community and at our last festival we had over 1,000 people attend. Since then we have:
•Started baseball for the first time in (30) years
•Rebuilt our playground in 2004 with KaBoom!
•Cleaned and still clean over (200) vacant lots each year for the last (7) years partnering with The Horticultural Society.
•Sponsored (5) Senior Citizens Proms that has now attracted over (500) Senior Citizens who attend and started Tioga Seniors In Action with Ms. Grier from the Venango House.
•Sponsored (6) job preparedness workshops and helped over (90) people prepare resumes, engaged them in mock interviews, training on job retention and development of skills.
•Sponsored give away drives for book bags, turkeys and baskets to over (200) families.
•Meet monthly with our residents to discuss the future of our community.
•Hosted Christmas parties for the youth in the community.
•Sponsored a Developers tour where over 100 developers, investors and realtors attended along with the Mayor and other City agencies.
•Retain youth in the summer on Saturdays for (6) to (8) weeks to clean the community and give them a small stipend.
•Rezoned our community which had not been done for over (80) years.
•Currently just finished rehabbing (4 ) of (6) houses for homeownership
•Registered as the neighborhoods registered community Organization to work on zoning issues.
•Became a Federal Home Loan Bank Blueprint Community.
•Rehabbed and sold (4) of (6) blighted houses in Tioga for First Time Home Buyers
•Partnered with Take Da Gospel 2 Da Streets Event
•Partnered with Hope For Philly
•Formed a CDC which will now serve as a committee under Tioga United to continue working on development projects so we can continue to focus on programs and services.
•And much more.