When we left Sister Linda Lukiewski, who heads the St. Joan of Arc worship site in Harrowgate, she had a mess on her hands.
Billy Cooper, who owns the Philadelphia Recycling Co., had arrived on a mission of charity to remove an ugly and dangerous incinerator from the grounds of the church, which houses an after-school program for young children.
Pulling out the incinerator required bashing a brick wall, so after the incinerator was gone, a broken wall was left behind.
I wrote about it, asking if there were any charitable souls out there who would do what Billy had done, fix the bricks fast and for free. St. Joan of Arc lacks the resources to pay for that.
I have learned, through my years at the Daily News, that you if you don't ask, you don't get, and our readers are extremely generous.
The morning the plea was published I heard from several people, including an out-of-town brick layer, a Harrisburg lawyer (who can't do construction, but could write a check), other readers with offers of financial aid and, of course, I heard from the local bricklayers union. Both President Dennis Pagliotti and Business Manager Matt Stafford reached out, independently of each other. I was not at all surprised.
While some uninformed bigots – and that's what they are – bash unions, they are unaware (or don't care) that unions, in addition to provide a living wage and decent working conditions for their members, also do a lot of volunteer work for their communities, usually without publicity.
Here, I am giving them some. As it turned out, the weather was warm and the job was finished within days.
So thanks to Billy Cooper and the bricklayers and all the readers who wanted to help.
This is a perfect story for Christmastime, and wouldn't it be a better world, and a better Philadelphia, if we could do it year-round? We can, you know.