MTWB’s 2022 Year End Recap

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Groundbreaking at Vare.

MTWB has made great progress on our fourth and largest park project to date at the Vare Recreation Center. Located at 26th and Morris Streets in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philly, Vare has been a pivotal public space and home away from home for its community for over 100 years. While the design phase and associated budgeting process has encountered some delays over the project’s lifetime, the end result was a substantial increase in the project budget which ended up at approximately $20 million! In the spring of 2022, MTWB and its partners broke ground on the project which is now in the construction phase and slated to be completed in the Fall of 2023! 

We also completed work on the Ralph Brooks Park Mural Lot across the street from the basketball court and tot lot we built several years ago. The Mural Lot now includes an amazing play cabinet that provides storage for books and other recreational equipment. It is surrounded by some fantastic street painting that brings the entire area surrounding the park to life.

Over at Waterloo Playground, we ran into some unforeseen obstacles in the process of completing the last punch list items required before the park could open. But the good news is that the final work is underway and we anticipate that the park should be opening very soon.

Community Engagement

Before breaking ground on the Vare Recreation Center, MTWB partnered with the Vare community and Vare Advisory Council to throw a community celebration to pay tribute to the old Vare. The day was filled with food, fun, and joyful tears. Community members gave speeches, thanks, and embraced one another as they recollected on how many life events, sports practices, and memories were made together all within the walls of Vare.

On June 15th, 2022, MTWB, Rebuild, Mayor Kenney, the Vare community, Vare gymnastics and football teams, funders of the project, and many others joined together to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Vare Recreation Center. As we gathered on the outskirts of the basketball courts, speeches were made about the need for this new rec center, the collective effort to get to this moment, and how deserving the youth of South Philadelphia are of a brand new facility.  After the speeches, the Vare gymnastics team put on a stellar performance, showcasing the amazing programs that take place at Vare.  

In early August, MTWB assisted with a Tiny WPA “nature-play” installation at Northwood Park.  The installation was constructed from a cut down tree and consisted of an obstacle course made from tree stumps and large branches, along with other play activities. Northwood park was selected for this installation as part of the Make-A-Wish foundation.    

In partnership with Tiny WPA, BookSmiles, and the Ralph Brooks community, MTWB hosted a Build + Book event at Ralph Brooks Park. During the event, youth from the neighborhood, and staff from MTWB and Tiny WPA all worked together to build the play cabinet, which now resides in the Ralph Brooks Park Mural Lot. The youth learned how to use power tools, helped paint, and attached shingles. In addition, BookSmiles set-up and gave out free books to kids of all ages. After the play cabinet building was complete, Tiny WPA filled it with various games, arts and crafts, sidewalk chalk, and donated books from BookSmiles.

On September 21, 2022 MTWB and the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy (OACCE) hosted a site visit at the Vare Recreation Center and a community meeting for the Vare community with the semi-finalist artists of the Vare Percent for Art program. These artists are competing to design the art sculpture that will be displayed outside of the New Vare. The artists discussed with community members what they truly want the sculpture to embody and represent.  

For the fall/winter of 2023, MTWB partnered with the Greater Philadelphia ACE Mentor Program to host a Youth Project Team. The Youth Project Team consists of 16 juniors and seniors from Universal Audenried Charter School, which is only a few blocks from Vare. The goal of this program is to expose these students to potential career paths in architecture, construction, and engineering. During the weekly sessions they learn about the Vare Project, MTWB, and their input on the design of future programming at the Vare rec center is gathered. 

On Monday, November 21, MTWB reached out to Smith Playground and Vare Recreation Center residents to say thank you for being great leaders and stewards in the neighborhood. MTWB partnered with Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, who had the original idea, and the Eagles who brought in ACME Markets. ACME donated turkeys and Fletcher purchased ACME gift cards. It was a great event that MTWB was able to quickly turn around for Fletcher and the neighborhoods.


Over 5,000 people showed up for our 6th MTWB Benefit Concert at the Dell Music Center on what turned out to be a very steamy July night. In addition to coming out in support of MTWB there was no question about who the crowd came to see – headliner Japanese Breakfast, and they did not disappoint. Along with openers Cate Le Bon and Yo La Tengo, Japanese Breakfast capped off a wonderful night of music and very positive vibes. On top of the great music, thanks to our event sponsors, donors, and concert attendees. We were able to raise $250,000 that will be utilized for the construction of the Vare Recreation Center!

On a beautiful September night at Citizens Bank Park, over forty different generous sponsors and their guests joined us for the MTWB Experience presented by Healthbridge. We were honored by the support we received from so many great Philly businesses and from the healthcare industry in particular. We didn’t just have a great time that night at the ballpark – we also exceeded our target goal and raised over $160,000!


Make a statement that you are the kind of person that is trying to Make The World Better by rocking one of these new MTWB wristbands

Supplies are limited so here’s the deal – we will send a few of each of these styles to anyone that donates $50 or more, or becomes a Monthly Sustaining Supporter. You can become a Monthly Sustaining Donor by making a recurring gift during our Year End Fundraising Campaign which is going on NOW. Donate at or on Venmo (@MTWBFDN).

About the designs:

The black silicone wristband was designed by Terrence Smith, a South Philadelphia native that grew up in the neighborhood surrounding Smith Playground and Vare Recreation Center where two of MTWB’s projects are located. Terrence is the founder of Cool Fabrics Clothing Brand (@coolfabricsllc), which brings all natural, handcrafted fashion and style to the streets of Philly. His connectivity to the Smith and Vare neighborhoods, combined with his authentic Philly fashion sense, made him an easy pick to design one of our MTWB wristbands.

The orange cloth elastic wristband was designed by the well known Philly creator Blanco Rabbit (@blancorabbit_). Blanco is a freelance illustrator, animator, and designer who also DJs and produces house music. Her style is described as a “psychedelic sugar rush that embraces 90s nostalgia.” We knew we’d get something totally different from Blanco and her design did not disappoint. Wearing this wristband just makes us happy.