Northeast Times

Bridesburg's Miss Jackie could get her 'way'

Area res­id­ents want to christen part of Rich­mond Street in hon­or of Brides­burg Rec’s long­time lead­er.

Brides­burg Rec’s Miss Jack­ie out­side of the cen­ter, where res­id­ents are try­ing to get a pe­ti­tion to­geth­er to re­name the stretch of Rich­mond Street “Miss Jack­ie Way”.

For many years, chil­dren in Brides­burg knew that it was either Miss Jack­ie’s way or the high­way.

Now, the two choices could be one and the same as “Miss Jack­ie’s Way” could soon be a real stretch of high­way, if or­gan­izers of a new pe­ti­tion get their wish.

And already, there are 540 sig­na­tures (and count­ing) on an on­line pe­ti­tion to ac­know­ledge the 4600 block of Rich­mond Street as “Miss Jack­ie’s Way” in hon­or of long­time fix­ture of the Brides­burg Re­cre­ation Cen­ter, Jac­queline De­S­anc­tis.

“It’s em­bar­rass­ing, in a lot of ways,” said a humble De­S­anc­tis dur­ing an in­ter­view on Wed­nes­day, Aug. 31.

In 2008, De­S­anc­tis cel­eb­rated her 50th year of ser­vice to the Brides­burg Re­cre­ation Cen­ter — a full three years after she re­tired.

In fact, she still works five days a week at the cen­ter, usu­ally from nine in the morn­ing to nine at night, and draws no salary at all.

“My job is my hobby, and it’s been good to me,” she said.

In some ways, De­S­anc­tis, whom seem­ingly every­one in the neigh­bor­hood knows as “Miss Jack­ie,” has helped raise much of the Brides­burg com­munity. Since 1959, De­S­anc­tis has been work­ing at the Brides­burg Rec, lead­ing chil­dren’s pro­grams, or­gan­iz­ing events for area youth, and mak­ing sure loc­al kids had something to do in­stead of get­ting in­to trouble.

“When young people marry, they tend to stay here. I have grandkids of some of my ori­gin­al kids,” said De­S­anc­tis.

That long leg­acy of ser­vice is why Lisa Dick­son, a Quaker­town res­id­ent or­gan­iz­ing the pe­ti­tion ef­fort, said De­S­anc­tis at­ten­ded her moth­er’s me­mori­al after she died.

Dick­son was shocked that De­S­anc­tis re­membered her moth­er.

“It shows that each of her ‘kids’ holds a place in her heart and this ‘kid’ prob­ably hadn’t seen her since the late six­ties, but still she was there pay­ing her re­spects,” said Dick­son in an email.

In De­S­anc­tis’ of­fice at the re­cre­ation cen­ter, her memor­ies are on dis­play as the room is filled with hun­dreds of pho­tos, awards and memen­tos of her years of ser­vice. Chil­dren smile in pho­tos next to cray­on draw­ings that read “We Love Miss Jack­ie” and in the middle of the col­lage, De­S­anc­tis sits at her desk, al­ways pre­pared to an­swer the phone.

When she star­ted the job, she had planned on be­ing there for only a few years, but she came to love the com­munity, even though she resides in Tor­res­dale.

Her hus­band and son live even fur­ther away — her hus­band is in Maine and her son re­cently moved to Hawaii for a new job — but that’s an­oth­er story.

And, she said, the ar­range­ment works. She’s happy and she wouldn’t want to be any­where else.

In fact, she heard that 25 years ago, the city wanted to trans­fer her to a new neigh­bor­hood. But res­id­ents are said to have fought the plan.

“The neigh­bor­hood wouldn’t let them,” she said with a grin. “True or not, I heard it through the gos­sip line … I love what I do.”

And it seems the neigh­bor­hood loves her back.

“We love Miss Jack­ie,” said Joseph Gracki, 56, who was a child in De­S­anc­tis’ pro­grams as a youth. “You can’t come to this park without think­ing of Miss Jack­ie.”

As Gracki spoke (he was at the cen­ter as a fa­vor to a friend) De­S­anc­tis in­ter­rup­ted to ask, “How’s the baby?”

She’s still that close with loc­al fam­il­ies that she re­mem­bers the names of their grand­chil­dren.

“She’s al­ways been so good to the kids,” said Gracki.

As she walked out­side the cen­ter, the ever humble De­S­anc­tis brushed aside ques­tions ask­ing how she would feel when show­ing up to work and park­ing her car — which has a li­cense plate that reads “CEO of Brides­burg” — on a street that’s been com­mem­or­ated for her.

“I don’t do this be­cause I want flowers or gifts,” said De­S­anc­tis. “I like to stay busy and this is how I stay busy. I do it be­cause I love the kids and I love the com­munity.”

Dick­son planned to send her pe­ti­tion to City Coun­cil on Sept. 6. The pro­pos­al would not re­name the street, in­stead, it would see a plaque in­stalled along the road­way ded­ic­at­ing the 4600 block of Rich­mond Street as “Miss Jack­ie’s Way.”

“I know it’s not much, but there’s something very ‘Brides­burg’ about this,” wrote Dick­son. “Our roots have taught us, it isn’t about money, it’s about love, and this is our way of show­ing her — we ap­pre­ci­ate her.”

For more in­form­a­tion or to sign the on­line pe­ti­tion, vis­it ht­tp://www.pe­ti­tionon­line.com/Ms­Jack­ie/pe­ti­tion.html

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com 

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus