The Phi Mu Delta fraternity and University Neighborhood Organization co-hosted a cleanup of Longfellow Park with a block party to follow in the hope that the events will bring USM and its neighbors in Portland together.
Phi Mu Delta, which only formed in 2012, also hopes that the event will help establish them within USM. “It … helps get our name out there and show that we are here and we mean business,” said Phi Mu Delta Community Service Chair Gabe Weeden. “Phi Mu Delta is here to help and willing to work with several different organizations on a wide variety of community events.”
The volunteers at Friday’s event cleaned up the park, raked and mulched. “We still have a lot to do, but it’s great to be working with the students here,” said city council member Ed Suslovic, who came to help in the cleanup.
This is the second year that the organization, which is a group founded in 2006 to help the Portland community and the universities in it connect and understand each other better, teamed up with Phi Mu Delta to clean up the park. This year they are adding a community block party on May 3, and the block party will feature USM performers.
“One of the reasons I joined [the fraternity] was because we did this last year and all of the neighborhood kids came out and started to help. It was really fun,” said Phi Mu Delta member and junior Ryan Jordan. “It’s great to see the community helping out again.”
Last year, the fraternity cleaned up the park as part of the USM Day of Service but for this year, Phi Mu Delta has been taking the lead in managing the event by going to planning meetings and helping the University Neighborhood Organization with every aspect of the event from marketing and artwork to their social media presence.
“We love working with Phi Mu Delta Fraternity. They are a dynamic group of hard working young men,” said University Neighborhood Organization president Carol Schiller. “We’re very impressed with their initiative and drive to get involved and make good things happen.”
“Portland, USM and university neighborhoods are lucky to have such talented, professional and thoughtful young people that care and want to make a difference.” said Schiller
USM performers at the block party include the USM Dance team and the band Thingamajig featuring Phi Mu Delta brother Brendan Butler.
The USM New Sorority Interest Group and Circle K volunteers are also helping to organize this year’s events, and several community partners are sponsoring it, including the Shipyard Brewing Company (which will donate Capt’n Eli’s soda), Leonardo’s Pizza, Key Bank and Minuteman Press.
The University Neighborhood Organization is also advocating that Portland dub the area between Stevens avenue and Bedford street the education district. “This would be a big boost to USM and UNE’s ability to brand and market their institutions and this area,” said Schiller.
With the cleanups done on Friday, the volunteers are already preparing for the next event. “The May 3rd Block Party is a time for everyone to come outside and celebrate spring, have a slice of Leonardo’s pizza, try Capt’n Eli’s hand crafted sodas, listen to Thingamajig music, watch the USM dancers, join the bike parade, play games, explore the PPL Bookmobile, pick up a free Key Bank coloring book, meet your neighbors and enjoy the day,” said Schiller.