What began as a community movement back in 2011 has finally become a reality.
Bridesburg’s own “Miss Jackie,” Jacqueline DeSanctis, will have the 4500-4600 block of Richmond Street dedicated in her name next week, with an honorary street sign installed just under the Richmond Street sign to signify the honor.
Bridesburg resident Lisa Dickson started the initial movement back in 2011 after her mother passed away.
“Miss Jackie showed up [at the funeral] and it really struck me because my mom was young enough to be her daughter,” recalls Dickson.
Wanting to know more about this woman whom she had never met before, Dickson asked around the neighborhood.
She found that DeSanctis, who celebrated her 50th year of work at the Bridesburg Recreation Center in 2009, was known as the “Queen of Bridesburg” around the community — that’s how strong an icon she is.
Dickson decided she wanted to commemorate DeSanctis somehow, to thank her for her life of service to Bridesburg.
ldquo;A group of us started talking about it and really just came together. It started with the residents of the 4600 block of Richmond Street,” Dickson said. After some stalls in the process, Dickson grew frustrated. Petitions were lost and the cause lay dormant — but not for long.
A group of neighborhood women revived the cause in 2013, and began the process again.
Dickson credits Bridesburg resident Kathy Glatts as a strong supporter of the cause.
“Kathy did a heck of a lot of leg work. She resubmitted the paper petitions and got the physical letters of recommendation from local businesses” claimed Dickson.
The effort soon grew to include residents beyond the initial block of Richmond Street, as well as business owners and City Councilman Bobby Henon.
Dickson said that neighborhood resident Cindy Sabatino coined the phrase “Miss Jackie’s Way.”
Joseph Slabinski III, owner of Slabinski Funeral Home of Bridesburg and president of Bridesburg Business Association, was a staunch supporter of the cause. He said he’s happy that it’s finally accomplished.
“It started a couple years ago as a grassroots effort among a group of neighborhood gals…it was a long struggle, but now it’s happening,” Slabinski said.
Residents approached Henon for assistance in getting a sign made by the Streets Department.
“She exemplifies great public service. I can’t think of any other community where someone has been as influential as Miss Jackie. It’s my honor to have done this,” said Henon. “When people think of Bridesburg Rec., they think of Miss Jackie. In fact, when people think of Bridesburg, they think of Miss Jackie.”
Michael Groves, assistant recreation leader at Bridesburg Recreation Center, has worked alongside Miss Jackie for more than 10 years and attests what the residents of Bridesburg have rallied so hard to publicly recognize.
“She has affected so many people of the community in a positive way. She is a member of the Advisory Council, she helps with the Tot program, she is heavily involved with the pool. She is dedicated to the job, and this is her life,” Groves said.
Despite retiring in 2008, DeSanctis stills visits the recreation center five days a week, doing everything she did prior to retiring.
“She retired and the only thing that changed was that she no longer gets a paycheck,” said Groves.
DeSanctis told Star in 2011, “My job is my hobby, and it’s been good to me.”
The official dedication ceremony of the sign, followed by breakfast at The Bridesburg Recreation Center, will take place on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 9:30 a.m., with Henon, members of the Bridesburg Business Association, and representatives from the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Bridesburg Recreation Center in attendance to make remarks.
The community is also running a “Miss Jackie’s Keys” program.
For $10, purchase a key and write a personal message to DeSanctis — she’ll be given a giant key ring with all the keys on the day of the dedication.
Keys are available for purchase at the Bridesburg Recreation Center, the Bridesburg Boys and Girls Club, VFW Post #2 (Monday-Wednesday evenings) and the Post Office Café.
For more information, contact Patty-Pat Kozlowski at 215-816-3363.