Help needed for Edge­wood Ceme­tery cleanup

The Community Connection - - LOCAL NEWS - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

POTTSTOWN >> Vol­un­teers from cre­ative mas­ter gar­den­ers to week­end war­rior weed-whack­ers and friends who can rake, sweep, or dig are be­ing sought to join in a main­tainence ef­fort for the his­toric 12-acre Edge­wood Ceme­tery in the mid­dle of the bor­ough.

Or­ga­niz­ers from Pottstown CARES and Ho­bart’s Run have planned a com­mu­nity-wide “Stop Com­plain­ing, Start Car­ing for Edge­wood Ceme­tery Day” on Satur­day, Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. and run­ning un­til about 3 p.m. The rain date will be Satur­day, Oct. 27.

Pottstown ci­ti­zens are en­cour­aged to vol­un­teer at the 12-acre ceme­tery for a few hours or the whole day, by rak­ing, weed-whack­ing, mow­ing, plant­ing flow­ers, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in other im­prove­ment projects while learn­ing about the ceme­tery and its fas­ci­nat­ing back­ground from lo­cal his­to­ri­ans.

Ad­di­tion­ally, an anony­mous Hill School alum­nus has pledged an ad­di­tional $2,500 to­ward the Edge­wood fund — with the con­di­tion that Pottstown com­mu­nity mem­bers pitch in and raise $2,500 in match­ing funds by Dec.1.

In­di­vid­u­als who wish to make a tax-de­ductible con­tri­bu­tion to ben­e­fit the ceme­tery and help ob­tain the match can do by send­ing a check made out to Edge­wood His­toric Ceme­tery, Inc. to 740 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464; please note that the con­tri­bu­tion is to­ward the match­ing gift.

Ho­bart’s Run re­cently made a $5,000 do­na­tion to­ward Edge­wood grounds main­te­nance — one of sev­eral con­tri­bu­tions Hill has made since the ceme­tery’s aban­don­ment — but, to sus­tain this com­mu­nity rest­ing place, there is a tremen­dous, on­go­ing need for vol­un­teers and fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions from through­out Pottstown.

Un­for­tu­nately, the ceme­tery, cre­ated in 1862, has not had an of­fi­cial in­di­vid­ual owner since the 1930s. The in­di­vid­ual who had been serv­ing as care­taker es­sen­tially aban­doned the ceme­tery around 2012. Since then, a vol­un­teer non­profit board has at­tempted to raise funds, keep the grass mowed, and con­duct other main­te­nance, but there is no doubt that in­creased and sus­tained ef­forts must con­tinue to achieve restora­tion rang­ing from re­set­ting tomb­stones to clear­ing de­bris and main­tain­ing path­ways.

Ho­bart’s Run and CARES are as­sist­ing Edge­wood His­toric Ceme­tery, Inc. vol­un­teers with on­go­ing plan­ning for this “bring your own tools” grounds im­prove­ment ef­fort on Oct. 20.

There will be an op­por­tu­nity to share ideas for phys­i­cal im­prove­ments, fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity and fundrais­ers, and vol­un­teer co­or­di­na­tion. Var­i­ous items also will be avail­able through a raf­fle.

Re­fresh­ments will be avail­able; the com­mit­tee also in­vites par­tic­i­pants to bring food do­na­tions to share in fel­low­ship with other con­cerned ci­ti­zens. Also, vol­un­teers should bring a lawn chair or pic­nic blan­ket if de­sired.

An­drew Monas­tra and his wife, Sue, have been do­ing the lion’s share of phys­i­cal work at the ceme­tery, with help from a land­scap­ing com­pany hired through the Ho­bart’s Run do­na­tion and other con­tri­bu­tions.

“As a com­mu­nity, we need to come to­gether on this is­sue,” Monas­tra said at a re­cent pre­sen­ta­tion at the Pottstown His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, where lo­cal his­to­rian Michael Sny­der shared a fas­ci­nat­ing il­lus­trated lec­ture about the ceme­tery and the peo­ple buried there.

“This is a shared, Pottstown com­mu­nity-wide con­cern. The ceme­tery be­longs to all of us who care about how we are treat­ing the peo­ple who are in­terred there as well as those who care about what the con­di­tion of Edge­wood says about Pottstown as a whole,” Monas­tra said.

“Even­tu­ally, we need a long-term plan for Edge­wood to be self-sus­tain­ing, but in the mean­time, we need vol­un­teers who con­sis­tently help with main­te­nance; we also need lawn mow­ing equip­ment, and money that can be used to pro­vide the means to care for the grounds,” Monas­tra added. “We’d like to not only keep the grass mowed; we’d like to cre­ate beau­ti­ful gar­den spa­ces for med­i­ta­tion. But a few vol­un­teers can­not do it all.”

“We greatly ap­pre­ci­ate the help we are re­ceiv­ing from The Hill School and Ho­bart’s Run — and we also know this ceme­tery be­longs to all of Pottstown, and all of Pottstown should be step­ping up,” Monas­tra said.

Cathy Sk­itko, se­nior di­rec­tor of in­sti­tu­tional pub­lic re­la­tions and Ho­bart’s Run com­mu­ni­ca­tions, re­cently joined the Board of Edge­wood His­toric Ceme­tery.

“The ceme­tery falls within the bound­aries of our Ho­bart’s Run neigh­bor­hood im­prove­ment area,” she said, “and Ho­bart’s Run and The Hill School want to see it re­stored and main­tained, as demon­strated through our fi­nan­cial gifts and other sup­port to date.

“How­ever, The Hill’s re­sources must be com­mit­ted, first and fore­most, to its ed­u­ca­tional mis­sion,” she con­tin­ued. “The school is will­ing to be in­volved with the ceme­tery as a mem­ber of the Pottstown com­mu­nity, but serv­ing as the sole care­taker of a ceme­tery in per­pe­tu­ity, as some res­i­dents have sug­gested, is out­side our mis­sion and not the rea­son the School re­ceives funds

from stu­dents’ par­ents and alumni,” she ex­plained.

“Nonethe­less, we are com­mit­ted to help­ing Edge­wood His­toric Ceme­tery as a com­mu­nity part­ner, and we look for­ward to see­ing Edge­wood gain sup­port for their ex­cel­lent ef­forts,” she added. “Ho­bart’s Run is ad­dress­ing a range of pri­or­i­ties that in­clude fos­ter­ing a clean, safe, and in­clu­sive neigh­bor­hood and en­cour­ag­ing pos­i­tive res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial im­prove­ments. We are in­vest­ing sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts to­ward as­sist­ing Edge­wood, rais­ing aware­ness of

this com­mu­nity is­sue, and em­brac­ing this col­lab­o­ra­tion with An­drew and other car­ing Pottstown ci­ti­zens,

much as we do through a va­ri­ety of other Ho­bart’s Run part­ner­ships.”

In­di­vid­u­als who would like to vol­un­teer for this com­mu­nity en­gage­ment en­deavor, en­gage in reg­u­lar care­tak­ing, and/or make a tax-de­ductible gift should con­tact An­drew Monas­tra at amonas­tra@wolf­bald­ or 610-323-7436. Fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions can be made to Edge­wood His­toric Ceme­tery, Inc. and mailed to 740 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion also would wel­come do­na­tions of work­ing equip­ment such as lawn trac­tors, mow­ers, and weed-whack­ers, as well as hand tools. They would es­pe­cially wel­come do­na­tion of a 360-de­gree turn­ing mower as well as funds to­ward pur­chas­ing such equip­ment.


Much of the work on Pottstown CARES Day was fo­cused on clean­ing up the side­walk along High Street in front of Edge­wood Ceme­tery.


Hill School vol­un­teers gather after spend­ing Pottstown CARES Day work­ing at Edge­wood Ceme­tery.


Lo­cal at­tor­ney An­drew Monas­tra, who is or­ga­niz­ing the care­tak­ing of Edge­wood


Hill School vol­un­teers at Edge­wood Ceme­tery on Pottstown CARES Day.


Not all the vol­un­teers who helped out at Edge­wood Ceme­tery on Pottstown CARES Day were stu­dents.


A Hill School vol­un­teer cuts grass at Edge­wood Ceme­tery on Pottstown CARES Day.

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