Dow Chemical volunteers plant weeping cherry to identify veteran burial ground

This morning, seven Dow Chemical Company employees stepped away from their daily grind at the Pennsauken location to engage in clean and green projects that support the company's goal to "make the world safer, cleaner and greener for generations to come." Dow volunteers worked with UrbanPromise and the Delaware Gardens Neighborhood Initiative (DGNI) to clean Johnson's Cemetery Memorial Park. Resting on the border of Camden and Pennsauken, this long-forgotten cemetery for African American Veterans and civil servants has been a focus of revitalization efforts including a re-dedication ceremony in May. Dow Chemical employees furthered this project by cleaning the area and planting a weeping cherry tree on an unmarked field where remains are buried. The tree is intended to identify the field as hallowed ground and prevent recreational use. It is accompanied by a sign that displays a quote from Thomas Bailey Aldrich reading, "For the tears a Land hath shed their graves will always be green."

In the spring of 2015, the Dow Chemical Company Foundation provided a grant of $15,000 to support clean and green initiatives in the Delaware Gardens neighborhood that engage local youth and residents in sustainability projects with a focus on raising awareness about conservation while improving the environment. To date, DGNI has completed a parks assessment to determine use and upkeep and implemented more than a dozen clean-up projects focused on abandoned lots, local parks, Johnson's Cemetery Memorial Park, roadside areas, and an abandoned rail bed that DGNI and local partners hope to convert to a recreational trail. Additional short-term goals supported by the grant include resident meetings on energy efficiency, distribution of mini-grants to residents to improve the efficiency of their homes, the coordination of a "Friends of the Parks" resident group, and  the distribution of multi-lingual refrigerator magnets regarding proper trash disposal.

Delaware Gardens is a fragile neighborhood that spans the border of Camden and Pennsauken with the majority of the neighborhood resting in Pennsauken. A diverse community of more than 8,500 residents, the neighborhood demonstrates tremendous strength and potential for positive growth. DGNI is a 5-year neighborhood revitalization project funded in large part by the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation.

For more information on mini-grants for energy efficiency or to join the Friends of the Parks in Delaware Gardens, contact Betsy McBride at 856-382-1862 or bmcbride@urbanpromiseusa.org