Philadelphia Eagles legend Ron Jaworski helped fund a Local 98 project to bring light back to a vandalized football field. Members of Local 98 volunteered to do the work. From left are Political Director Tom Lepera; Business Manager Mark Lynch; Business Agent Nemo Devine; Jaworski; Member Services Representative Elaine McGuire; and Trish Cuadrado, executive director of Jaws Youth Playbook.

The football field is a green valley surrounded by the red brick cliffs of rowhouses in the Olney section of Philadelphia.

The city of Philadelphia and Local 98 joined together to promote the union’s efforts to restore lighting to a neighborhood football field.

But like many formerly middle-class neighborhoods in many formerly industrial cities, Olney has been struggling.

A few years ago, unknown thieves stole the copper wire out of the lights at the field, part of the Lauretha Vaird Boys & Girls Club, causing damage worth 10 to 20 times the value of the copper they scrapped.

It literally and spiritually left the neighborhood darker. Every year, as winter approached, 300 football players and 50 cheerleaders watched their time to practice and play grow dimmer each day.

After she won the Democratic nomination for mayor, Cherelle Parker — who would go on to win in November — called Mark Lynch, business manager of Local 98, to see if the local could help out the kids.

They knew each other from her campaign, and both sensed something different in the city since the local trades rallied after a truck fire collapsed a 500-ton section of Interstate 95 in June. Less than two weeks later, the road reopened. It made the whole city ask why people accept when things aren't how they should be.

"There's a spirit here. We call it 'can-do Philadelphia,'" Lynch said. "We said we would look into it and our members would do the work free."

It was a nightmare. The thieves who stole the wire caused $40,000 to $50,000 of damage, not including labor.

Local 98 held a news conference and promised to do the job, do it right and do it fast if the city stepped up to join them.

"Local 98 builds coalitions, and then we do the work. We get things done," said Local 98 Political Director Tony Lepera.

In stepped Ron Jaworski, one of the greatest Eagles quarterbacks of all time, and still a local even decades after retiring. His foundation stepped in with $30,000, which helped secure $50,000 courtesy of the City Council.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, a platoon of Local 98 wiremen and apprentices poured into Olney and began to set things right. By Thursday, the kids were back in the glow.

"We don't have to accept that things don't work. We don't have to accept worse than our kids deserve. That's the union message: We're strong when we're together — better contracts, more work, better neighborhoods, healthier kids," Lepera said. "A better future for everybody."