Esperanza staff and students volunteered their time to remove an impressive 40 bags of trash from the streets of Hunting Park at the 8th Annual Philly Spring Clean Up this past Saturday, April 11.
The event was organized by Esperanza Housing and Economic Development as part of its Commercial Corridor Program, but it attracted a broad base of volunteers representing Esperanza Academy, Esperanza Cyber Charter School, Esperanza College, and Esperanza’s National Programs division. The clean-up participants were motivated by a desire to give back to the community and beautify the Hunting Park neighborhood. National Programs Associate Intern Sarah-Michelle Laddusaw explained: “I live a few blocks away, and I don’t like that there’s so much trash in my neighborhood, so I wanted to do something to change it. When people see their neighbors cleaning, they know that someone cares, and it encourages them to come out and do the same.”
The Philly Spring Cleanup is an annual citywide event that was started by Mayor Michael Nutter. Community groups are encouraged to organize volunteer cleanups in their neighborhoods, and the Streets Department provides support through free tools and same-day trash and recyclable collection. In 2014, over 14,000 volunteers participated in 569 projects across Philadelphia and collected over 970,000 pounds of trash. Esperanza has been leading annual spring and fall cleanups in the vicinity of 5th Street and Hunting Park Avenue since 2012. Each season, a group of volunteers focuses their energies on otherwise-neglected blocks which suffer from high amounts of litter and short-dumping.
Although the Spring Cleanup is only a small part of Esperanza’s community beautification work, Philip Dawson, Senior Director of Esperanza Housing and Economic Development, believes that its value is far-reaching. “Solving the litter problem isn’t just about picking up trash—it’s about changing people’s behavior. When young people participate in an event like this, they see the negative impact that litter has in a neighborhood, and they take back that knowledge to their families and communities. This year’s group was one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated we’ve ever had, and we really made a difference.”