Union and West End Cemetery

The Union and West End Cemetery is located in center city Allentown. The main entrance is on 10th Street at 10th and Chew Streets. The cemetery is mantained by a dedicated group of volunteers. Ten board members (also volunteers) serve the cemetery association and manage the finances, make application for grants, solicit donations and participate in the maintenance of the cemetery.

Friday, October 13, 2006

 

Summer Is Over!

When the trees in the cemetery turn bronze and yellow, and the cold winds blow, it is time to acknowledge that summer is over, fall has fell and the grass isn't going to continue to grow much longer. This means that the twice weekly trips to the cemetery will, in a very short time, come to an end. In many respects, this is a welcome relief. It has been a difficult summer trying to stay ahead of the grass and weeds. Yet, all things considered, the few volunteers that were active in the cemetery did a remarkable job of staying on top of things and, for the most part, the cemetery looked halfway decent most of the summer.

I cannot speak for the other directors and volunteers, but in some recesses of my brain, I really hate to see the summer come to an end. Yes, spring will be here again soon enough and then the summer months of endless cutting of grass, but for now, the end of the season is a sad time in many ways. I will miss the hours in the cemetery. The solitude, the quite moments, the sense of being surrounded by history. As one rides a riding mower, cutting grass, passing tombstone after tombstone, one can not help but glance at the names and dates on the stones. This invariably leads to random thoughts about the individual buried there and what is his or her story? The cemetery is filled with the remains of some 20,000 plus individuals, each one with a story to tell. If only the grave could reveal the story of each and every individual; what a wonderful resource that would be on the lives and times of those that came before us.

I will miss this interchange, even if it is all in my head. It will not be easy to get up every morning and not have to decide whether this is a good day to go to the cemetery or not. Ordinarily, this decision is dependent on the weather and whether or not I have a doctor appointment or some other meeting.

The meetings are generally associated with fund-raising efforts on behalf of the cemetery. This year, I have been involved in number of meetings with the Mayor's Office; having met with Fran Docherty, City Manager and Mary Ellen Koval, both associated with the Dept of Community Economic Affairs for the city of Allentown. Fran and Mary Ellen have given their whole-hearted support to the cemetery association. John Fusolta, the Parks Director for the city of Allentown has also pledged his support to the cemetery whenever he has resources that are available and can be directed to help the cemetery association in dealing with deceased trees. The cemetery association wishes to extend our sincere appreciation to the city of Allentown for its support.

Fran Docherty arranged a meeting with the newly installed president of the Lehigh County Military Affairs Counsel, Major Nathan Kline who, along with Beth Blasco, pledged their full support to the Union and West End Cemetery Association, the cemetery in downtown Allentown that is the final resting place of more than 700 Civil War Veterans. The support of the Lehigh County Military Affairs Counsel is a significant feather in the cap of the Union and West End Cemetery Association as the counsel has many important sponsors that could ease the financial burden of the cemetery association, if they choose to do so. The Military Affairs Counsel has agreed to help convince their sponsors to provide financial support to the cemetery association.

Ardath Rodale made a significant contribution to the cemetery in the year 2006, for which we are most grateful. This contribution came at a time when the cemetery association was in desperate need of additional funding. Thank you Ardie!

To a much lessor extent, Air Products and the Alvin H. Butz Company made contributions and we appreciate their willingness to be of assistance. I personally had hoped that they could have helped more.

The cemetery association is also indebted to the organizations that provide annual grants that are immensely vital to the cemetery associations survival. Grants have been received from the Trexler Trust, the Century Trust, The Dept of Community & Economic Development, and the Sylvia Perkin Charitable Trust.

We also appreciate the individual contributions made by so many individuals in varying amounts. The individual contributions are too numerous to list, but we are very appreciative of all contributions made by concerned and interested individuals.

We would also like to thank Representative Jennifer Mann and her staff for their support and assistance. When the cemetery association needs assistance in its dealings with the various organizations associated with the State of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Mann and her able staff are always available to provide assistance. We also appreciate Jennifer Mann's personal support of the cemetery association and her efforts on our behalf with respect to state funding. Thanks Jennifer!

So, another season comes to a close. We will continue to cut grass, as needed, for a few more weeks, then, the leaves will begin to fall, blanketing the cemetery with dead leaves that need to be removed before winter sets in. The final volunteer Clean-Up is scheduled for Saturday, November 18, 2006. This is the last time that many of us will be in the cemetery until spring. We could use a lot of help. Mark your calendar, Union & west End Cemetery Clean-Up - Saturday, November 18, 2006. We can use all the help we can get. Bring leaf rakes and/or leaf blowers and help put the cemetery in great shape for the winter months. Its the least you can do.

"IF NOT YOU - THEN WHO?


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