Heroic actions in playground shooting get surprise recognition in city council

Pat Loeb
October 21, 2019 - 4:30 am
Philadelphia City Hall.

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio


Philadelphia City Council surprised a Parks & Recreation employee last week with a special citation for her actions in July, when seven people were injured in a shoot-out at the playground where she works.

Jeneen Helms was locking up the pool at Baker Playground in the Overbrook section on July 13. She had stayed late because there was a tournament on the nearby basketball courts and she wanted to make sure nobody tried to sneak into the unguarded pool. Then she heard gunfire.

"I had to check to see if everybody was all right," Helms recalled, "and then I had to call the cops and waited for them to come and kind of shut everything down before anything else could happen that night."

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"I think that's the true definition of a public servant," said councilman Curtis Jones, "that you put your own needs behind the needs of others." 

He was so impressed, he introduced a resolution honoring Helms' actions and drew her to council on a pretext to surprise her with it. She accepted with aplomb.

"This is a shock for me but I am thankful to be honored for the work that I do for my city," Helms said, "and I hope that if any other situations do occur, even though I don't want them to, that there's always somebody there who can step up and look out for their community."

Helms was a seasonal employee at the time. She is now a full-time Parks & Recreation staffer.