Days have been rough, and nights rougher, but when the National Guard took up temporary residence in Port Richmond, folks were resting easier.
On Saturday night, November 7th, members of Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic (PROPAC) served up 400 homemade Polish meals including kielbasi, pierogies, and sauerkraut to members of the National Guard, Police and Fire Department. They set-up shop with a food truck in The Home Depot parking lot on Castor Avenue.
This was to be the National Guard’s final night in Philadelphia. The meal became a grateful expression of neighbors as the Guard’s work and visit to the neighborhood was ending. Stores all along the Aramingo Business corridor were vandalized, broken into, and even destroyed as merchandise was looted on the night and early morning of October 27th into 28th. The National Guard was called in to protect against any further unlawfulness.
“Food is love,” said Patty-Pat Kozlowski, who made pierogies and sauerkraut. “When someone comes to your home to help you, you make them dinner.” If you make delicious food, they will come — and so they did! “They’re so thankful about homemade,” said Kozlowski. She made 25 pounds of her “infamous” sauerkraut recipe, that Ken Paul, President of PROPAC called “ridiculous”. “It’s not bitter, it’s sweet. It’s crazy!” he continued. It takes 7 hours to cook, which Kozlowski called “a labor of love”. Add that to Czerw’s Kielbasi – A knockout!
Members of the National Guard and Police Department steadily came through the food line, expressing their gratitude for the homemade meals. Kozlowski said that earlier in the week when PROPAC served Mission BBQ dinners, one Guardsman told her that when she first got into Philadelphia, someone spit at her and said she wasn’t wanted here. The Guardsman said that when she deployed to the Riverwards, she was overwhelmed by the kindness of people who offered words of support, food and a bathroom to use. ‘I’ve never been to a place like this,’ the soldier said with delight.
On Saturday night, our Protectors were offered a choice of “The Bridesburg” Box, with a hot dog, sauerkraut, deep-fried pierogi and a piece of chocolate babka; “The Port Richmond Platter” with Czerw’s kielbasi, sauerkraut, deep-fried pierogi, and a piece of chocolate babka; or “Chicken dinner by Donna’s Bar”, with Chicken Marsala and roasted parsley potatoes in butter.
The neighbors here are incredible. Teresa Maciejewski, who was born in a poor village in Poland, just 1 hour from Krakow, stayed up all night afraid on October 27th, as her neighborhood of Port Richmond was under siege from looters. The National Guard’s presence brought her a great sense of security. In gratitude, she cooked 30 pounds of potatoes to hand-make 300 pierogies on Saturday for PROPAC to serve them. To say that these pierogies are INCREDIBLE is not an exaggeration. Her mother taught her how to make them when she was a 13-year-old in Poland. That special recipe came to the USA with her for many people to now enjoy!
It was a party-like atmosphere in the parking lot with Guardsmen and police all gathering around to socialize. At one point, dozens of soccer players from Samuels Rec Center came through the parking lot with pizza to offer to all the members of the National Guard.
Anne Paul said that throughout the week, PROPAC helped to serve 1,100 meals to the National Guard, police and fire department. One of the highlights was homemade soup from Kitty’s in Port Richmond. The volunteers on Saturday said that many thanks go to the people of Port Richmond and Bridesburg for donating anywhere from $5.00 to $100.00 to purchase everything that goes along with serving up hundreds of meals.
Patricia (Buzzin’ with Patti) Buzine summed it up saying that she volunteered to help PROPAC this night because our protectors deserve it. “The Guard are good people whose presence help the police. “I’m honored that they’re here.”