On November 9th, 2013, I stepped out of my car at 8:30am to find the brisk morning air nipping at my face, stealing away whatever warmth I had from my toasty warm car. I immediately grabbed my wool gloves, steaming mug of coffee, and mentally prepared myself for what lay ahead for the rest of the morning. Elizabeth Celaya, Lindsay Duvall, Steven Montera, and I began our day at Art Centro, gathering our supplies to set up for the long-planned Middle Main Clean Up event. We were able to set up a tent along with our Middle Main Banner and check-in supplies to present a warm welcome to all our prospective volunteers.
Frankly, we were a little nervous about who would actually come to our event, giving up some of their precious weekend time to pick up garbage on a chilly morning; a task that may not necessarily bring someone a ton of joy. But in reality, a small-scale morning event like our clean up can have a major impact on the quality of life of the local community. We were so pleased when volunteers started arriving even before 9am, ready to grab gloves, garbage bags, and get to work. We had a wide variety of people; local parents and their children, students from Marist College, and many disparate community members all came together. We had over 25 volunteers that day, walking the streets of the Middle Main neighborhood, picking any trash they saw, ranging from candy wrappers to broken down strollers. They even took the time to separate the recyclable items from garbage so that we not only could clean the streets, but make an environmentally conscious effort.
Even community residents who had not heard of our Middle Main campaign took notice of the various volunteers cleaning up their streets, and wanted to know more. I kept thinking of how easy it is to let the wind steal a small piece of plastic from our hands and bring it to a nearby plot like the pocket park in front of the Underwear Factory. Keep in mind the next time you are opening a container or wrapper that those little pieces add up and can truly hinder the attractiveness of a place.
Normally, I am awake a little before 6am and ready for the day, but on this cold Saturday morning, it was a little more challenging, but well worth it. All the organizers of this event, including myself, could appreciate the time and energy our volunteers put into the effort that morning, cleaning up the neighborhood and proving to Poughkeepsie that the community and the neighborhood are worth caring for.