By. J. Smith
Philadelphia -- Beginning with the wealthy Financier Stephen Girard, who fought a late- eighteenth century plague with the aid of a couple of French-immigrant doctors and Minister Richard Allen; and continuing on with such figures as Soap manufacturer Joseph Fels, Bethlehem Steel founder Joseph Wharton, and oilman Joseph Pew, Philadelphia's wealthy citizens have long felt the need to serve and improve their community.
Under a scorching midday sun, Jonathan Sabino, an Aramark volunteer, was already drenched in sweat as he and a dozen other Aramark employees dextrously dug with spade and shovel, Wednesday, preparing several acres at this Front and Erie playground across from St. Christopher's Hospital for what will become a community vegetable garden.
"It's such a rewarding experience to take off from your normal job and to come together with other people" (from Aramark), said Mr. Sabino, "and build this big garden, and to give back to this (Kensington) community."
Accustomed to working in an air-conditioned office and arranging services and transactions as a member of Aramark's Global Finance division, Mr. Sabino noted that this Wednesday Volunteer event was the second he had participated in with Aramark Building Community program: "I tend to be a hands-on type worker, so rather than painting, I chose to do light construction."
Mr. Sabino was joined by more than one-hundred and thirty other Aramark employees, all of them drawn from every department of the 255,000-employee international food services and facilities management company. The Aramark volunteers included dietitians and delivery persons, Management and Marketing personnel, to members of the Legal and Accounting departments.
Scattered throughout the playground in a variety of activities - from painting the walls and repairing a leaking roof on the dilapidated Fieldhouse, to building a dozen park benches - Aramark's massive staff collaborated in the day-long efforts with its partner the Lighthouse, as well as the Mayor's Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service.
Since 1893, the Lighthouse, now under director John Lavery, Beacon director Ruby Rivera and a Miguel Concepcion - has been providing recreational, educational, job training and economic improvement programs for thousands of families in Kensington.
The Aramark Volunteer effort also coincided with the launch of the summer-long "Safety and Health" campaign spearheaded by the Mayor's Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service and the Federation of Neighborhood Centers. The Federation is a network of eight community-based centers that was established in 1906 to build stronger neighborhoods.
Another group of seventy Aramark employees were simultaneously engaged in a similar enhancement project in the city of Camden, working with the Respond Inc. organization.
"Our employees are committed to using their skills and expertise to create a positive and lasting impact in neighborhoods like Kensington and Camden, as well as other communities we serve around the world," said Joseph Neubauer, ARAMARK Chairman and CEO, in a released statement.