Greg Thompson

Greg Thompson speaks at the Glenda Ann Christopher Memorial Park dedication in Southwest Philadelphia.

— Tribune Photo / Nathaniel Lee

Residents of Southwest Philadelphia gathered earlier this month to celebrate the legacy of the late Glenda Ann Christopher, a beloved community advocate known for her selfless dedication to her family and community.

A park was dedicated in her name at the inaugural Glenda Ann Christopher Memorial Day on the 5900 block of Greenway Avenue in cooperation with The 5900 Greenway Avenue Block Association.

The heat and humidity did not deter those who gathered to honor Christopher’s memory and pay tribute to others whose lives added value to the neighborhood before their transitions and whose images were depicted on photographs that lined the gates of the newly dedicated Glenda Ann Christopher Memorial Park.

The park, once a squalid place where illicit activity and illegal dumping were common, was transformed into a green space where residents can take pride and walk safely.

“This was a dumpsite,” said Greg Thompson, the founder and organizer of the memorial park and committee person for the 40th Ward. “I got neighbors together and we decided that we were going to make this a clean place, and the woman we are dedicating it to was a great lady,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who had previously moved to the Mount Airy section of the city, said he moved back to the Southwest to make a difference and decided to work on transforming the blighted area. He gathered some neighbors and contacted elected officials representing the area.

“We have really good leaders,” Thompson said. “When I approached them, they stood up and it was just absolutely amazing. The support and help that I had [from Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s office] was absolutely amazing. We simply could not have done this without him, without his support, and they made everything possible.”

Asked how difficult the challenges of transforming the lot and surrounding community were, Thompson shook his head with a smile and said, “It was a lot. It was overwhelming.”

Shejdie Childs, a cousin to Christopher, served as master of ceremonies at the event.

“This is the place where we played as kids and to come back and see the place that they turned it into as a memorial park, I don’t know, it’s something that Glenda would have been more than proud of,” Childs said. “We’re very appreciative of all of the effort and all of the people who are out here to celebrate her and all of the others that we lost in recent years.”

Offering remarks and presenting official citations during the ceremony were U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, state Sen. Anthony H. Williams, state Rep. Joanna McClinton and Johnson.

Ward leader Ann Brown said she had fond memories of Christopher.

“Glenda was a chair in the 40B Ward for many years and a very hard worker. She was one of the nicest people I have known in my lifetime,” Brown said. “It’s been 10 years now since she’s been gone and look at this display of love right here in her back yard. It’s incredible.”

Contact Johann Calhoun at newseditor@phillytrib.com or call at (215) 893-5739

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