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East Passyunk scavenger hunt aims to help the homeless

On April 27, the Depaul USA will host a South Philly-themed quest.

On Saturday, April 27, Depaul USA will host its third annual scavenger fundraiser hunt along East Passyunk Avenue. Above: Previous hunts from the last couple of year in Center City. (Photos by Shannon Morgan/special to South Philly Review)

Competitors of all ages who enjoy brain teasers with a dash adventure can test their South Philly wisdom this upcoming Saturday along East Passyunk.

While configuring clues scattered around the avenue, participants will be exercising their noggin for a good cause.

On April 27, the Philadelphia program of Depaul USA, a national organization aiming to end homelessness, is hosting its third annual scavenger crawl fundraiser for the first time in South Philadelphia.

Seeking more than two dozen landmarks, public works of art and other points of interest, the annual event sends teams of participants on local quests throughout some of the city’s most vibrant districts  – all while raising funds to benefit the organization’s objectives.

“The idea is to open people’s eyes to things they otherwise wouldn’t notice,” said South Philly resident Sandra Guillory, the Philadelphia director of Depaul USA. “It’s a fun way to engage people around fundraising for what many think of as a cause that isn’t very fun…It’s a different kind of fundraising.”

Marking its 10-year anniversary, Depaul USA launched in Germantown during the spring of 2009 before spreading to North Philadelphia while also serving homeless individuals from across the city.

Over the last decade, Philadelphia’s Depaul USA acquired a range of assistance, including a Medical Respite program, which offers recuperative services to homeless individuals who have been recently discharged from local hospitals and the St. Raymond’s House location, 7919 Forrest Ave., which gives permanent housing and case management to homeless populations with chronic health conditions.  

Through its housing programs, Guillory says the Philadelphia chapter of Depaul USA grew from serving 60 people with one location to serving 200 at five locations. The organization continues to evolve as new homeless-related needs surface in Philadelphia, such as its recent goal to provide housing to homeless college students.

“We want to meet local needs,” she said. “We realize that people needed more help to find employment, so we started an employment program…As we diversify, there are more options available to them.”

Though during its first five years, the organization hosted an annual 5k event, the staff wanted to expand the fundraising to something a bit more thrilling that could also include people of all ages.

This brainstorming eventually led to the first two hunts in Center City before the team decided to feature the East Passyunk Crossing neighborhood.

“We know from a lot of people coming, they’re not that familiar with the area, so they’ll get to see a lot in a  few hours. It’s spread out enough that people will get to see the avenue,” said South Philly resident and Depaul USA development manager Mark Atwood. “We had to do exploring of our own neighborhood to make sure we’re covering anything and make sure it makes sense for people who aren’t from the area…There’s a lot to see down there so we certainly didn’t have a hard time finding clues.”  

Not only is the area overflowing with history, arts, residences and businesses, but Depaul USA recently learned about local businesses noticing an increasing number of homeless individuals on or around East Passyunk Avenue.

“(Neighbors) would be more interested in supporting an event like this ‘cause it’s a bit more front and center,” Atwood said.

At 11 a.m., registered teams, or individuals matched with a group, will meet up at the South Philadelphia Older Adult Center, 1430 E Passyunk Ave. After registration is finalized and folks are pumped up, the staff will send the 15 to 20 teams in various directions.

The entire 20-clue course, which will last about two hours, will cover East Passyunk, parts of Broad Street and surrounding blocks.

“It’s not so much solving something but finding something,” Atwood said.

The route concludes with an after-party at Garage Passyunk, 1231 E. Passyunk Ave, where prizes will be awarded.

Aside from Garage, other local businesses sponsoring the event include Le Virtu, Century 21 Forrester,  Manatawny Still Works, Nice Things Handmade, Philly Home Girls, Pistola’s Del Sur and United Savings Bank.

Along with businesses and the Depaul USA staff, even some receipts of the organization’s service are helping to make the East Passyunk scavenger hunt possible.

“We welcome a wide variety of support, including people who take part in our program,” Guillory said. “They’re having fun but getting to know what folks we serve.”

For more info, visit: give.depaulusa.org/event/depaul-scavenger-crawl/e225654

Tickets cost $15 for individuals and $50 for a team.

For businesses interested in sponsoring, contact Mark Atwood at Mark.atwood@depaulusa.org


Twitter: @gracemaiorano

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