Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It's a Clean Sweep!

[I now have Photos Up of my 2006-7 volunteer experience]

The City of Rochester has a rich tradition of volunteerism, and it's growing greener by the year. The entire city is invited to participate in two of Rochester's largest annual events and close to 20,000 actually show up. These caring citizens donate a 1/2 day or more of labor to clean-up streets, parks and river banks, repair buildings and/or make improvements to commercial property. All this done in the spirit of "taking pride in Rochester!"

Here are three of the volunteer efforts I participated in within the last few weeks:

The Otetiana Council of Boy Scouts of America kick's off the "Clean Sweep" program for the City of Rochester! The project, called “Scout Sweep,” is centered in Genesee Valley Park and was held this year on Saturday, April 21. When I arrived, Sylvia, Otetiana Council's District Director, introduced me to Florence, the Urban Director, with whom I was to work with at the registration table along with Rose and Sandra. We logged in participants that had been organized into units to pick up litter and debris along the Genesee Riverway Trail and Erie Canal.

The next weekend I helped out again in Genesee Valley Park with the first of four City of Rochester "Clean Sweep" volunteer events. Mayor Robert Duffy spoke to the crowd of over a thousand, launching crews that went out in force to sweep streets, remove graffiti, clean up City properties, repair unsafe sidewalks and filling potholes. My crew, around 20 of us, picked up trash along the river and Genesee Street from the park to the University footbridge.

We all received a bright yellow Clean Sweep t-shirt and were provided a full set of yard tools, some volunteers even brought their own tools. Later, we were invited to a celebration picnic where we shared stories about finding such items as bowling balls, wheel rims and fence posts—last year a total of 1,500 tons of debris was collected. I enjoyed my lunch with three, very nice ladies I befriended along the way. Clean Sweep Photographs - 10/21/06: here and here.

Four days later, I showed up along with 11,000 other volunteers for Rochester's single largest volunteer effort, United Way of Greater Rochester's annual "Day of Caring." My supervisor, MJ, at AHEAD Energy was organizing a crew to do improvements on the historic South Presbyterian Church located nearby. It was a perfect Rochester day for planting flowers, spreading planter mulch and river rock, and I supervised the re-roofing job on half of the church's adjacent garage.

The value of all these efforts is said to be around $1 million. Last year, nearly 13,000 volunteers from more than 120 companies and several area schools spent their day working on more than 500 projects in and around Rochester. Our crew of around 20 was composed mainly of employees from the Rochester branch of Macerich Company and members of the church. I worked with a couple of cool guys from Macerich, one of them bring a full set of new power tools he bought for roofing his own home.

Reporting from the underground...

Stan Morris