HAVING WORKED as a crossing guard for 13 years, Lena Davis knows her corner.
She knows the parents and kids who cross it at 46th Street and Woodland Avenue, which schools they're going to and the route they'll take to get there. And if that route had been staffed by a fresh team of yellow-vested volunteers, she'd know that, too.
But Davis didn't see or hear of any volunteers yesterday despite an announcement by city officials last week that they'd be there.
"I don't know anything about that," Davis said. "It's the first I heard about volunteers."
The plan that was supposed to have been in place was dubbed by the city as "Walk Safe PHL," launched in response to concerns for the safety of the roughly 9,000 kids whose old schools were closed this spring. Many of those students now have to walk unfamiliar, longer or potentially more dangerous routes to their new schools.
In early August, Mayor Nutter announced that Town Watch Integrated Services would lead an effort to identify "safe corridors" and recruit and train a team of volunteers to staff them. On Friday, Town Watch executive director Anthony Murphy said his group had recruited 260 volunteers who would don yellow vests and man every designated "safe corridor."
But this reporter walked two of the 36 designated corridors yesterday and saw no such volunteers: The milelong route between the closed Alexander Wilson school at 46th and Woodland and the Henry C. Lea school at 47th and Locust streets; and the 1.4-mile trek designated as the safest walk for kids going from Fairhill Elementary, which closed, to Roberto Clemente in North Philadelphia.
Dwight Coney, a volunteer standing outside the parochial St. Francis de Sales School, also said they hadn't seen volunteers on the Wilson-Lea route. "I would have noticed," Coney said.
The scenario confirmed the worries of Lea Home and School Association president Maurice Jones, who says he's been asking district officials and Town Watch's Murphy for details for weeks: "[Murphy] assured me there's a plan," Jones said. "But I just see no evidence of it."
Murphy said just before noon that he was still waiting for reports and couldn't confirm whether the route to Lea school had been manned. "Folks said there were some [volunteers]" on the route, he said, "But right now I just don't know."
"I'm concerned about that route, too," Murphy added. "It's a long walk."
Other reports indicated that there was at least some volunteer presence at other schools around the city.
Mark McDonald, a spokesman for the mayor, said his understanding was that both schools did have a volunteer presence but that volunteers may not have been wearing vests.
He was unable to say at what times or locations they were present.
"As you can imagine, this is a large volunteer program that just experienced Day One," McDonald said. "It's an organic thing that will grow and change and we very much encourage parents to work with organizers."