Volunteers gathered Saturday in Southwest Philadelphia to rake and bag grass clippings left behind by city workers in an effort to make Mount Moriah Cemetery less “deplorable.”
Visitors to the grounds found in recent months headstones toppled, markers obscured by undergrowth and trash and tires dumped along access roads.
City workers have mowed and cleaned up about 60 percent of the grounds within the past two weeks. Arrangements have been made with Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, a volunteer organization which promotes the welfare of the cemetery, to maintain areas which the city has already cleared.
Dan Callahan, president of Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, said some relatives of those buried want to remove and re-inter remains, but they have no one to contact about doing so. “That’s really what the biggest heartbreak is,” he said. “There’s nothing happening.”
City official Brian Abernathy said the city is still struggling to find a long-term solution. “It’s not something we can solve on our own,” he said.
Three more volunteer cleanups organized by Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery are scheduled through Oct. 8. The next is Aug. 13. State Representative Ronald Waters said he is sponsoring a hearing on Mount Moriah on Aug. 31 at Drexel University.
“Not every day there’s a project that benefits both the living and the dead,” volunteer Khiet Luong said.