Veterans to be honored at Somerton Civic’s Community Day

The Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation will cel­eb­rate the 10th birth­day of the Delaware Val­ley Vet­er­ans Home as part of the civic group’s an­nu­al Com­munity Day on Oct. 5 at Daniel Boyle Play­ground.

But the his­tory between the civic group and the vets home is a lot older than that.

The re­la­tion­ship dates to 1987, in fact, when the late Vince Mal­atesta — a Penndel res­id­ent and World War II vet­er­an — first ap­proached the SCA to pitch the idea of a nurs­ing home for aged, dis­abled vets. Ac­cord­ing to an art­icle pub­lished by The Phil­adelphia In­quirer that Dec. 10, Mal­atesta at­ten­ded the monthly SCA meet­ing and won the group’s “tent­at­ive sup­port” for the nurs­ing home idea. The old Phil­adelphia State Hos­pit­al (com­monly known as By­berry Hos­pit­al) was still op­er­at­ing then, but its days were numbered. It was closed in 1990 fol­low­ing al­leg­a­tions of pa­tient ab­use and poor con­di­tions.

Mal­atesta and his col­leagues in the loc­al vet­er­ans com­munity fought for some 16 years to get state ap­prov­al and fund­ing for the pro­ject. Com­pleted in 2003, the home ac­com­mod­ates up to 171 vets and their eli­gible spouses. Mal­atesta passed away in 2007 at age 85.

Speak­ing at the latest Somer­ton Civic meet­ing on Sept. 10, SCA Pres­id­ent Dolores Bar­bieri prom­ised a fest­ive trib­ute to the home dur­ing next month’s Com­munity Day. It will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and fea­ture many activ­it­ies, such as chil­dren’s games, face paint­ing, bal­loon sculp­ture, a dunk tank, raffles, prizes and demon­stra­tions by neigh­bor­hood or­gan­iz­a­tions and busi­nesses.

En­ter­tain­ment will be provided by the MaST Charter School band and choir, Boy Scout Troop 226 drum and bugle corps, Con­es­toga An­gels march­ing band, Celt­ic Flame Ir­ish dan­cers and Fel­low­ship Baptist Church band. 

Res­id­ents will meet their loc­al elec­ted of­fi­cials, while en­joy­ing snacks and re­fresh­ments sup­plied by mer­chants such as Jim’s Pret­zels, Wawa, Acme and Shop Rite. The loc­al Lions Club will col­lect used eye­glasses for char­ity, while Farm­er’s In­sur­ance will col­lect school sup­ply dona­tions for dis­tri­bu­tion to the needy.

The nurs­ing home will be cel­eb­rated with mil­it­ary ce­re­mon­ies and per­son­al re­cog­ni­tion of res­id­ents, some of whom may at­tend. The an­nu­al mer­chant award will be presen­ted to Mi­chael Heise of Neli’s Deli for his sup­port of the com­munity. Ad­mis­sion and activ­it­ies are free. But the SCA seeks vo­lun­teers to help plan and op­er­ate the event. Vo­lun­teers need not work the whole day, but should be avail­able for an hour or two at least. Con­tact Bar­bieri at dm­ to help.

• SCA Zon­ing Chair­man Seth Ka­plan re­por­ted that a de­veloper’s plans to de­mol­ish a single home and build three new ones at Southamp­ton and Wor­thing­ton roads is mov­ing for­ward. The civic as­so­ci­ation is un­able to op­pose the pro­ject form­ally be­cause it meets all re­quire­ments of the city’s zon­ing code. Ka­plan said the de­moli­tion work is slated to be­gin later this week.

Ka­plan fur­ther re­por­ted that Cafe Lava at 13033 Bustleton Ave. has moved its out­door seat­ing from the front of the build­ing to the rear after the city’s De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tion cited the busi­ness for a code vi­ol­a­tion earli­er this sum­mer. The rear seat­ing does not vi­ol­ate the zon­ing code, Ka­plan said.

In an­oth­er zon­ing is­sue, Ka­plan re­por­ted that a mur­al pro­ject planned for the Bustleton-Somer­ton Shop­ping Cen­ter has been delayed. The city’s zon­ing board post­poned a hear­ing about it on Aug. 15. A new date is not an­nounced. The mur­al would cov­er an ex­ter­i­or wall fa­cing south to­ward O’Mare’s Ir­ish Pub. The civic group did not take a po­s­i­tion for or against the mur­al plan.

• Phil­adelphia po­lice Capt. Joe Zaffino of the 7th dis­trict re­por­ted that Somer­ton res­id­ents should not be alarmed by the re­cent murder that oc­curred at a con­struc­tion site on North­east Av­en­ue be­hind George Wash­ing­ton High School. It was not a ran­dom act. The vic­tim knew his killer, and the motive was per­son­al.

“Let me say this, if you were walk­ing along North­east Av­en­ue at that time, you would not have been shot. He was def­in­itely tar­geted,” Zaffino said.

Po­lice are plan­ning to see more burg­lar­ies in the dis­trict as sum­mer ends. Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, Zaffino said, burg­lar­ies are lower in the sum­mer be­cause a lot more law-abid­ing people go out­side in the warm weath­er, and crooks fear wit­nesses. ••

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