Community CleanupHealth Promotion

Community Cleanup: The Power and Impact

By: Katherine Ramirez

A community cleanup is one of the most powerful and important ways people can volunteer to help others. Such cleanups provide a path for residents to become more involved in their communities. They also help deter crime as cleaner streets become less attractive to those who engage in criminal conduct. 

Recently, I organized a five-person team from Connecticut Children’s called Champions4Kids to participate in a community cleanup in Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood.

Frog Hollow Community Cleanup

The Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance and its Frog Hollow SAFE (Safety Alliance for Everyone) initiative organized the event as part of a series of community cleanups dating back to 2018. The goal of their events is to make communities safer by keeping them cleaner. About 75 volunteers participated in this latest community cleanup and our combined efforts collected more than 125 bags of trash and recyclables.

During the cleanup, my Champions4Kids team competed with other teams to collect the most trash and recyclables, report the most concerns to the city of Hartford’s 311 line, and share the most posts on social media promoting the event. It was an incredible experience and I was very proud of my team. I was even more excited that my daughter came along and supported the community.

As we walked the streets in our dedicated four-block zone, we were stunned at the amount of trash and recycling products that we were able to collect, as well as the community needs we were able to report. Business owners, customers and families kept thanking us and cheering us on. What a great way to give back to the community!

Community Cleanup Impact

The impact of such community cleanups extends far beyond the day of volunteering. They not only help to improve the overall look of a neighborhood, but can even positively affect the health of those who live in the area.

During such events, volunteers collect insect- and rodent-attracting litter, which can carry germs and exacerbate health conditions such as asthma. Volunteers are also able to report additional concerns that the city can address, such as mattresses that need removal or public spaces that need repair. Because of such cleanups, residents are often motivated to keep their properties in top shape and children have cleaner and safer places to play.

Through the community cleanup, my hope is that such visible results will lead to a heightened interest and involvement among community members in reducing garbage and food waste, and preserving the environment. The event provides a great example of a small, but significant change that has the power to encourage residents and volunteers to be more involved in the health of their neighborhood, give back to the community, and bring others along on the journey. Through events such as this, we can work together to build a sense of community and responsibility, encouraging residents to keep homes and common areas safe and clean.

I am excited to participate in future community cleanups organized by the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance. I invite you to do the same!

Katherine Ramirez is manager of Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination.

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