Mayor Nutter & Phillies Praise Local Volunteers

Mayor Nutter and Phillies officials, including a very red Phillies Phanatic, kicked off "Paint the town red" week with a City Hall ceremony to honor nine local people for their work in the community.  The Phillies season starts on Sunday with a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.  Nutter used the kick-off to praise volunteer work.  "It is the way to make Philadelphia the city you want it to be," he said.

After the jump, you can read the city's press release:

The Phillies Celebrate a City of Champions
Mayor Nutter and the Phillies Honor Nine Champions in the Community

To kick off Paint the Town Red Week, the Phillies, along with Mayor Michael Nutter, recognized nine champions in the community today at City Hall. These unsung heroes, who work hard every day to make Philadelphia a better place in which to live, were greeted by the Red Phanatic and had their photo taken with the World Series trophy.

“The Phillies and the city are excited to honor these nine citizens who have done so much for Philadelphia,” said Phillies President David Montgomery. “They are tremendous role models not only for our children, but for every member of our community.”

"Philadelphia is truly a city of champions - both the Phillies and Philadelphians who step up to the plate day after day,” said Mayor Michael Nutter.

The Phillies may be champions on the field, but these nine citizens are champions off the field.

Brandon Brown
Brandon is helping the community in several capacities, including acting as the director of youth and family services with Nu Sigma Youth Services, where he manages youth- and family-centered programming such as mentoring and increasing the high school graduation rate throughout Philadelphia.

Jeanne Bundt
Jeanne is a compassionate and selfless powerhouse who is tenacious when it comes to assisting homeless men, women and children. Her advocacy for the treatment of homeless individuals with dignity and respect is unparalleled.

Blanche Burton-Lyles
In the world of classical music, seasoned and multifaceted concert pianist Blanche Burton-Lyles is one of the most talented women to grace stages, ballrooms, and musical circuits. Blanche is founder of the Marian Anderson Historical Society and continues to inspire others through her gift of music.

Julia Chin
Julia is an active member of the Police District Advisory Council for the 18th Police District. She is always willing to spearhead efforts to provide community assistance in West Philadelphia. As president of the 18th Police District Block Captains Association, Julia wants a better quality of life for residents in her community, especially neighborhood children.

Penelope Giles
As executive director and founder of the Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation, Penelope is hard-working and innovative. She applied for and received a land grant which allowed her to hire a few young men and volunteers in her community to help clean several abandoned lots in her neighborhood last year. Penelope continues to take on neighborhood projects and makes sure the local children are involved to “keep them out of trouble.”

Jamie McKnight
Director of Teens 4 Good, Jamie helps coordinate a farming program of the Greater Philadelphia Federation of Settlements, farm-urban agriculture at its best! The organization broke ground in 2005 and continues to grow. They currently employ 80 youth from Philadelphia and are teaching the kids the importance of ways to utilize green space in the city.

Lew Mellman
Lew is a longtime member of the Friends of Clark Park in University City, one of the busiest urban parks in Philadelphia. In 2008 he initiated the first recycling program to take place in a recreation outdoor park in the city. Lew personally handles organizing weekly recycling efforts at the park. He has also helped to plant and care for dozens of trees in Clark Park.

Laura Semmelroth
A staffer at the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, Laura has transformed Pop’s Playground, a decommissioned recreation facility, into a community hub. She helped organize neighbors to remove graffiti from the facility and worked with the local police captain to find solutions to the drug peddling that was occurring at the facility. Laura has also received a $10,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation to help build a skate space at the park.

Wali Smith
Wali is the community liaison for Town Watch Integrated Services. He enjoys assisting communities, youth and ex-offenders with issues of quality of life, leadership and character building. Wali has conducted many workshops in the community and the prisons and has encouraged youth and adults to excel in their various endeavors. He also finds supportive people to work with ex-offenders in their return to society.

The Phillies will be honoring the nine champions on the field prior to their On-Deck Series game vs. Tampa Bay at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday, April 4 at Citizens Bank Park. The nine will also enjoy a celebratory dance on the dugout with the Phanatic following the 7th inning.