Society president Ed Wendell is giving local kids a hands-on history lesson while preserving the cemetery for future generations through a partnership with students in St. Thomas the Apostle’s Woodhaven History Club.
“The cemetery is connected to our past and I think it’s just the right and decent thing to do,” Wendell said of the work.
Wendell hosts monthly cleanups of the 96th Street cemetery to get young people interested in the history of the community and to take care of it going forward.
“How you treat the past is an indication to young people how they should be treating the current community and how they should treat the future,” Wendell said.
Wendell recently created a 34-page booklet detailing Woodhaven’s history. It includes the cemetery and how it ties into the history of the neighborhood.
“We wanted to have something they could take home and have a little understanding of what this place is,” Wendell said.
The Woodhaven History Club is led by teacher Patty Eggers, and her students are researching the people buried in the cemetery.
They have also visited historic sites in the area, like the former Snedicker Hotel and Napier Farm, that they first learned about by researching the names on the headstones.
“It’s built community pride with the kids tremendously to see where they came from,” she said. “They’re really understanding where we started.”