By Dustin Slaughter
South Philly Review’s Bill Chenevert reports on a lifelong Point Breeze resident and community organizer named Etrulia Gay, whose leadership turned a once decrepit Wharton Square recreational space into a vibrant, thriving community hub.
Chenevert writes that her dedication to this space, and her community, began nearly 29 years ago.
“We decided to have an Easter egg hunt here, so we had to clean it up first and that was a job. It was a mess. The trees were dead, there were branches everywhere, the benches were broken and there was trash everywhere,” she tells Chenevert.
The rec center, because of Gay’s steadfast efforts, has grown – nearly doubling in size. Along the way, she has garnered commendations and accolades from mayors, police chiefs, and more, which gave her the political clout to seek resources, enabling her to expand the center and provide more for the community.
“We started begging for a building because there were so many children. They added some more space and two more bathrooms and these two rooms – it works out pretty good now.”
In addition to nutritious cooking classes, she offers “awareness programs” mainly for the children, many of whom lack cultural and personal awareness, she tells Chenevert.