2020 Annual Meeting

The Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) will hold its annual meeting on Tuesday, November 10, at 7:30 PM via Zoom. At the annual meeting, we elect officers and board members and invite guests to talk about important community issues. The event is free and all community members are invited to attend, learn more about the organization, and get involved. If you plan to join the meeting please register online to obtain the Zoom link. 

This year’s meeting will feature Penn Alexander Principal Lauren Overton, who joined the school this year as the newest Principal. She’ll be sharing her perspectives and long-term plans for the school. 

Along with annual committee reports, elections will be held for SHCA officers and board members. The nominating committee’s slate is running unopposed. Officers running for returning one-year terms include Monica Calkins for executive vice president, Veronica Alvarez for vice president (operations), Leslie Medley for secretary, and Andrew Richman for treasurer. Richard Moore will be running for the position of President this year, and 10 returning board members will also be elected.

Black Lives Matter

The Spruce Hill Community Association has witnessed the country convulse with pain, fear, and outrage provoked by the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many others. Their deaths, combined with the disproportionate number of deaths of Black and Brown Americans resulting from COVID-19, have made our community more keenly aware of the centuries-old systemic racism woven through so much of American society. We join with the voices of protest in demanding justice, fairness, and equity for the Black community. 

The Spruce Hill Community Association is a volunteer organization of neighbors committed to strengthening the Spruce Hill community and to enhancing the quality of neighborhood life for all residents. As part of that, we believe that Black lives matter, and we pledge to stand up for and support our Black and Brown neighbors and neighborhood businesses through the work that we do. We will continue to work on our commitment to being a welcoming and open community that celebrates inclusion and diversity.

SHCA Matching Gift Program: UCD Retail Restart Fund

Dear Neighbors –

In this time of uncertainty, as communities everywhere struggle to adapt to the new normal, we’re all looking for ways to help. The impact is widespread, affecting all of us in ways both large and small. Independently owned small businesses, in particular, are bearing a heavy burden as social distancing guidelines limit their ability to perform “business as usual.” 

That’s why we’ve decided to partner with UCD to support their Retail Restart Fund, which has been formed to support the local independent business economy. The Fund will offer mini-grants averaging $500 each to eligible independently-owned retail applicants in the community to help them absorb the costs of re-opening safely – covering the purchase of supplies ranging from personal protective equipment and contactless payment systems, to plexiglass dividers and outdoor tables, to paper menus and staff safety training.  SHCA will match donations from its members, dollar-for-dollar, up to $2,000. We firmly believe that the small businesses that comprise our neighborhood are critical to a strong community, and we’re eager to help them get through this however we can.  100% of all proceeds raised by UCD will be directed to local retailers. 
If you plan to donate, you can do so so in one of two ways:

1. Through the UCD website (securely processed by Network for Good, which processes donations to thousands of nonprofits around the country). Please indicate “Spruce Hill/Retail Restart Fund” in the special purpose line.

2. Via check made out to University City District (with “Spruce Hill/Retail Restart Fund” in the memo) and mailed to: UCD, Attention: Nick Edelman, Finance Director, 3940 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Please note that the deadline for donations is June 15. If you’ve already donated and would like SHCA to match your gift, please send your name to [email protected] and we’ll make sure it’s added to the list. 
UCD is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  Donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
We truly appreciate all that this community has done to band together and support businesses and residents through this challenging time. We hope that you’re all staying safe and healthy. 

Evan Johnstone and the SHCA Board

Covid-19 Resources Update

Hello Neighbors – 
Below are some reminders and new details about services, volunteer opportunities and voting reminders during the COVID-19 Pandemic. A host of other resources, including those outlined below, are available in our online resource document.

  • A reminder that the deadline for mail-in ballots is May 26! Polling locations have been reduced due to the pandemic, and voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot rather than going to their polling place on election day. Find our more details here.
  • Jamie Gauthier’s office has set up a phone bank to check on neighbors in the 3rd District, to see if they need help and to connect them to resources. They are in search of volunteers to make calls and drivers to deliver aid. Please use this form to sign up. In it’s pilot phase, the program has been able to deliver food to hungry residents, encourage reluctant, symptomatic neighbors to get tested for COVID, and offered friendly conversation to seniors who were feeling lonely.
  • Lockdown Letters is a student-run initiative collecting and sending letters of appreciation to front line workers who are dedicating their time and energy to support our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sending a letter can boost morale and make these heroes smile during tough days. Instructions for letter submission and other details can be found at lockdownletters.org.
  • UCD has launched its Retail Restart Fund to help offer financial support to small businesses in the community. To learn more or donate, please visit the UCD websiteSHCA will be launching a matching gift program to help support this initiative shortly. Details to come!  
  • UCD is surveying local restaurants to gauge how they can best assist them in their re-opening plans. If you are a restaurant owner in the neighborhood, please complete the online survey.  The information from restaurants will help shape UCD’s plans and partnerships moving forward.

As always, stay well and thank you for all your support.

SHCA Board

PAS Playground Update

On behalf of the PAS Outdoor Space Steering Committee, I am excited to share that, in accordance with state and all local COVID-19 guidelines, construction of the new PAS playground will begin by May 25th. Construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of June, 2020.

Thank you SHCA for your support in making this a reality. The playground will feature two rope climbers connected with a bridge, two slides, two saucer swings, a spinner and a two color safety surface.

We are all very excited for our community to have a new, safe and fun place to play! We will keep you posted on its completion.

Laura Line

Vote by Mail

Important New Dates for the 2020 Primary Election

  • May 18: Last day to register to vote before the primary election.
  • May 26: Deadline to sign up for an absentee or mail-in ballot . Your county election office must receive your application before 5 p.m.
  • June 2: Election Day
    • 7:00 a.m: Polls open.
    • 8:00 p.m: Polls close.
    • 8:00 p.m: Deadline for your county election office to receive your voted absentee or mail-in ballot.
  • The Inquirer published a listing of new polling places for the upcoming election. If you’d rather get your mail-in ballot, do so soon. The deadline is 5/26: https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Mail-and-Absentee-Ballot.aspx

COVID-19 Resources

In an effort to save your inbox from overflowing, SHCA has compiled a full listing of resources, activities, and ways to help during the pandemic. Some highlights include: 

  • Support Local Restaurants and help families in need at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.  UCD will be purchasing catered meals from local restaurants to feed residents at the Ronald McDonald House. Learn more, including how to donate.  
  • UCAL’s Live Auction will take place on Saturday, May 2, at 8 PM as a virtual event via Zoom. Auction materials are currently posted online for preview! You can visit the website to see what’s available and register for the auction by clicking https://UCAL.givesmart.com.  You can also register for the auction by texting UCAL to 76278. The event is open to all!
  • Off Their Plate is a grassroots movement to provide nutritious meals to the hospital teams we depend on and economic relief to local workers who have been affected by COVID. More details here.

The complete listing of resources and other news is available in an online Google Doc. We’ll be updating this regularly with new postings and will send out periodic updates via the SHCA List Serve. We hope you find it useful.

We hope you’re all staying healthy and safe during this time.

SHCA Board

Covid-19 News at West Philly Local

Get up-to-date local news and announcements about the impact of Covid-19 on our neighborhood at: westphillylocal.com

Support Local Restaurants with Help from UCD!

Customers dine at Renata's Kitchen

Mar 15, 2020 7 days ago Notes (9)

Please note: We’ve added new details to hopefully clear up some confusion over how this promotion will work. We are asking customers to support local restaurants by purchasing gift cards for personal use, and then UCD will also purchase gift cards that we will use in future promotions and giveaways and double your support up to $250 per restaurant. All accounting will happen between the restaurant and UCD. 

University City’s rich and diverse restaurant scene is facing a unique challenge as we all struggle to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus. During these trying times, many local restaurants and eateries are suffering reduced business or facing temporary closures. University City District wants to help local restaurants, local employees, and the public by offering our support through a limited time promotion.

Through March 31st, 2020, UCD will join you in supporting local restaurants by purchasing up to $250 in gift cards per participating restaurant to match customer purchases. UCD will keep the gift cards to use in future promotions and giveaways, and the restaurant keeps the additional revenue. All customers need to do is purchase a gift card at any of the participating restaurants below–UCD will work directly with restaurants to track sales through March 31st, and purchase gift cards to match the total sales, up to $250 per restaurant.   

To put it simply:

  • Support your favorite restaurants by puchasing gift cards to use later. More restaurants are signing up each day. If you contact a local restaurant and they haven’t signed up, please tell them to reach out to us! 
  • If a restaurant opts-in to our program and provides us gift card sales receipts, UCD will purchase as much as $250 in gift cards per restaurant to match your purchases, which we will use in future promotions and giveaways.
  • The goal of this program is to inject revenue into local restaurants during this tumultuous time. We encourage you to continue purchasing gift cards even if the $250 number has been reached. 
  • UCD will work with each restaurant to track sales and purchase the cards at the conclusion of the program. 

Purchasing a gift card from a favorite local restaurant or coffee shop is a great way to show your support and help keep favorite local eateries in business during these difficult times. Customers must contact restaurants directly to see if gift cards may be purchased online or via the phone. We recommend using Yelp to find contact info for local restaurants, or view a list of restaurants we partnered with in the past through Dining Days

This promotion is open to all independent restaurants, coffee shops, and chains with fewer than 10 total locations that operate within our district (from the Schuylkill River to 50th Street, and generally speaking Woodland Avenue to Spring Garden). If you are a restaurant operator located within our boundaries and wish to participate, email margaret (at) universitycity (dot) org for more details and certain restrictions. 

Although this current promotion is aimed at helping local eateries, please remember that all local businesses, from barbershops to nail salons to pet stores to gift shops and everything in between, are in need of support right now. Please consider purchasing gift cards from all of the businesses that contribute to the overall vibrancy of our wonderful neighborhood.

Participating Restaurants 

May Fair Canceled

The Spruce Hill Community Association canceled this year’s May Fair – scheduled for Saturday, May 16 in Clark Park – due to public health concerns associated with the new coronavirus (COVID-19). The decision was made based on the City of Philadelphia’s guidance to limit large gatherings in an effort to slow down the spread of the deadly virus.

“It’s not a decision we take lightly,” reads a statement from the May Fair Planning Committee. “May Fair has been a community tradition for 62 years and we hate to disappoint our neighbors, local organizations and businesses who look forward to this annual spring event. However, considering any emerging health risks, and our responsibility to the community, we feel this is the right decision.” 

Most of the primary components of May Fair, including live music, moon bounce, petting zoo, food trucks, and vendor tables, are being canceled. Vendors who have already submitted table fees will receive refunds.

However, if the risk is reduced enough to allow large social events, the planning committee will discuss the possibility of hosting a much more scaled-back event in Clark Park on the scheduled date, May 16. Stay tuned for more details when they are finalized closer to this date.