When Bryce Harper arrived this winter, he cited his desire to lay down roots in Philadelphia as a reason he’d signed with the Phillies. Would he have said this about any city in which he’d landed? Yes. But it made it clear that throughout the free agency process, one of his priorities had been to find a community of which he could be a part.
It’s human nature to seek others for warmth, for support, for protection from predators. Yes, as Philadelphians, we are often the monsters from which other communities shelter themselves, but we also built our own functioning society here between the rivers for when we’re not terrorizing neighboring homesteads. From us peons, to the pro athletes who call the city home for only part of the year, community involves everybody, whether you involve yourself in it or not. David Montgomery believed this—he must have, or he wouldn’t have supported so many Philadelphia organizations that exist to improve the community in which we live.
There’s a thriving subgenre of Phillies writing at the moment: profiles of Montgomery illustrating the way he was—an endless giver, a frequent smiler, and a ferocious name-rememberer. His passing on Wednesday caused the mayor of Philadelphia to lower the flags to half-mast citywide, and made Larry Bowa cry in public. Everybody, from Dan Baker, to other MLB teams, to the Philadelphia Airport addressed the void felt by his death. Anyone touched by even the furthest reach of the Phillies organization has a story about how he impacted their lives.
But what I wanted to do in this space is talk about the future. For six months and 81 games a season, the Phillies play here, down in the parking lot wastelands at the city’s southern tip; but the city is here all year round. People live here, work here, go to school here, and, in a lot of cases, desire to live full, productive lives here. This is a flawed place, like any filthy metropolis, but being part of a community is maintaining an awareness of its issues while continuing to try and strengthen it for everyone, so that long after we’re gone, the impact we make can still be felt.
Maybe you’re too jaded, or just unable, to contribute—that makes sense. It’s all too easy to imagine groups that claim to be helping people are actually back-channeling their donations into less favorable enterprises. We live in a maddeningly cynical time, and most people aren’t millionaire baseball team owners. Our efforts may not be as vast or deeply-pocketed, but they’re still impactful, and when we make them together, as one giant, slobbering collective, powered by hair-trigger sports rage, they become even more dynamic.
We are going to hear a lot about Montgomery’s local philanthropy in the days to come, and should those stories serve as inspiration to emulate his work, I wanted to provide at least somewhere to start.
Listed below are local organizations to which Montgomery donated significant time and resources, their statements on his passing, and how to get involved with them should you choose.
Need in Deed
Need in Deed’s board and staff were saddened by the news of David Montgomery’s passing. David was an enthusiastic, tireless, and generous supporter of our work and served as a Need in Deed board member for over twenty years before stepping down for health reasons.
David is remembered fondly for being a “sweet and wonderful man who knew everyone’s name.” He was “a wonderful, kind, committed, and thoughtful man who you couldn’t help but like and appreciate.” He regularly attended board meetings, was always happy to meet with the teachers in our network, and to participate in strategic planning and visioning efforts. As board members reflected, “It was never about him. It was about the work, about the staff, and the students. David served us. He didn’t want the credit. That was the kind of man that he was.”
What they do: Need in Deed works to “connect classrooms to the community” through service-learning with their partners, equipping students with 21st-century problem-solving skills to better serve their communities. Since 1987, they’ve organized teacher networks to “unlock students’ potential and engage them in learning” for grades 3-8.
Children’s Scholarship Fund of Philadelphia
“On behalf of the board and staff of the Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia, I was deeply saddened by the news of David Montgomery’s passing [yesterday]. Dave was a tremendous advocate for CSFP and the families we serve for many years. He was a true gentleman – kind, generous, and humble – and I was fortunate to know him during his tenure on the CSFP board. Dave will be sorely missed by so many in the Philadelphia community and his impact will be felt for years to come. We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.”
—Patrick J. Burke, Board Chair
What they do: “Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia (CSFP) is a privately-funded program whose mission is to provide children from low-income Philadelphia families with financial access to quality, safe, K-8th grade, tuition-based schools.”
How you can get involved: CFSP is always looking for young professionals to host events for volunteering, networking, and education. You can also volunteer for, partner with, and donate to the organization.
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia
“On behalf of The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, we wish to extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences on the passing of David Montgomery to his family and the entire Philadelphia Phillies organization. David was a longtime member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and a tremendous civic leader who will be remembered for his kindness, humility and love of Philadelphia. We were honored to know and work with David and will miss him greatly.”
Dan Hilferty & Rob Wonderling
What they do: The economy! Every city has one. Philadelphia can’t rely on cheese steak sales generated by that stimulating b-roll during national sporting events alone. That’s where The Chamber comes in. Through formulation and advocacy of public policy and specific initiatives, they work to stir small businesses, creative work, civic leadership, education, diversity, and other areas, all in the name of a more prosperous Philadelphia. They helped open a Target in Center City, if that’s your bag.
How you can get involved: Own a business and want to get involved? Join here. Don’t own a business? Shop local when you can. And yes, I know that Target isn’t exactly local, even if there is one in Center City now. But shopping local is always cool.
Walnut Street Theatre
“Today, we mourn the passing of Walnut board member, David Montgomery. David was an exemplary representative of our great city, both as an avid supporter of the local arts community and as a leader of his beloved Phillies. A true gentleman and true Philadelphian, Mr. Montgomery will be sorely missed.”
What they do: You know the Walnut Street Theatre. Founded in 1809, it prides itself as “America’s Oldest Theatre,” with almost 50,000 season ticket holders shuffling in and out of productions all year long. Do you like living in a city with arts and culture? Montgomery served as a board member for the theater, helping to keep them alive.
How you can get involved: Volunteer, intern, and join the young leadership council.
“For the last ten years, David served as PHL Sports’ Chair, volunteering his time and sharing his vision and enthusiasm whenever he entered a room. As we all know, David was an incredibly devoted champion for our city, and one of the greatest ambassadors Philadelphia has ever known.
We are forever grateful for the time and energy that David brought to our efforts, and his wisdom and competitive spirit allowed us to score many wins for our city. Most recently, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to David for spearheading the city’s efforts to bring the 2026 Major League Baseball All-Star Game to Philadelphia, one of countless legacies that he leaves us.
Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with Lyn and the entire Montgomery family, the Phillies’ organization, and everyone who has been touched by David’s remarkable life.”
—Larry Needle, Executive Director, PHL Sports
What they do: The Philadelphia Sports Congress, now prominently known as “PHL Sports,” is the organization that acts as a big magnet to attract big sporting events to our fair city. In league with the professional team franchises, schools, facilities, and businesses of our region, they make the personnel, venue, and service connections that get us things like the 2026 MLB All-Star Game, which Montgomery was impassioned to bring to Philadelphia for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
How you can get involved: Become a member.
You’re probably never going to play for the Phillies (I know, I know; some scouts came to see you pitch in high school). You are, however, a part of Philadelphia. We don’t all get to be on the team. But we do all get to be a part of the community.
It may feel like this city will burn to the ground every time there’s a playoff loss, but Philadelphia will probably still be here in the decades to come. Making it a better place, as David Montgomery did, lets us contribute to a future we’ll never see.
"If you knew David Montgomery, you knew a man of great humility - and a man of great humanity - a man who always deflected attention from himself and was dedicated to giving back to the hometown he loved so much"@JSalisburyNBCS remembers David Montgomery.https://t.co/HGb0tjeR6E— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 8, 2019