Dozens gather for UpTown Spring CleanupWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonie McIntire summed up why most of the volunteers came out on a recent Saturday morning to pick up trash.
“It’s a beautiful day and I like Toledo,” McIntire said as she stood amid debris littered across a grassy vacant lot on 15th Street. The mother and Downtown health care worker came out to support the UpTown neighborhood in its Spring Cleanup day April 12.
“If you look in these bushes, there’s a full life in there,” McIntire said, referring to a bag full of clothing and alcohol containers she discovered under a nearby bush. The Old West End resident was shocked at how much trash she found in the UpTown neighborhood. Yet she saw the possibilities.
“Can’t you see it?” McIntire said, looking at the vacant lot as her two children, ages 11 and 13, picked nearby. “You could have a metropark or a garden or something.”
McIntire was among dozens of students, residents and inmates who picked up trash in vacant lots, along street corners and behind bushes as part of the UpTown neighborhood’s twice annual cleanup. The effort has been ongoing for the past 10 years, said Julie Champa, executive director of the UpTown Association.
“We believe a nice clean neighborhood makes everybody happy and deters crime,” Champa said. “It’s for the common good to improve the condition of the neighborhood. … We feel that a nice clean vibrant neighborhood benefits [all of us].”
The weather cooperated Saturday morning with blue skies and temperatures that reached into the 60s. Spring had arrived and winter had left a lot of trash in its wake for volunteers to pick up.
The parking lot at The Toledo Club, 235 14th St., served as event headquarters where volunteers signed up and got their trash bags and hand grabbers. The Toledo Club was “heavily invested” in the event and donated lunch, Champa said. The UpTown Association donated all supplies, she said.
Marty Lahey, treasurer of Uptown Association and owner of Manhattan’s Restaurant on Adams Street, said he planned to offer a lunch of pulled pork and baked beans to those who showed up at noon after the event.
Twenty-four people in teams of two had signed up to volunteer by 9 a.m. and Russ Wozniak, a board member of the UpTown Association, was confident organizers would see 50 volunteers, the typical total for years past.
Volunteers included residents from the Hillcrest Apartments, students from Mercy College, members from the Cherry Street Mission and also people serving in a penitentiary rehabilitation program called OhioLINK.
“We work with OhioLINK … we work with them and their clients and they provide clean up service through UpTown clean team…. it shows you how we all come together for the common good,” Champa said. “That partnership has been amazing and they don’t charge for their business. It’s a great model and they … don’t want to pass on additional costs and it’s a free service.”
Volunteer and architect Paul Sullivan has worked in Downtown for most of his life. He called the area including Downtown and UpTown “everybody’s yard.”
“I firmly believe we have to take care of Downtown and Downtown is Toledo’s greatest neighborhood,” Sullivan said. “We have to take care of our yard.”
Rachel Richardson of Art Corner Toledo, who works with artists and activists, first fell in love with the UpTown neighborhood in 2006 because of the art show Artomatic419!
“I love UpTown,” Richardson said. “Most of my murals are in UpTown.”
Richardson invited her friends to the event via Facebook and Kelly Jobe decided to accept. She worked in a vacant lot off Madison and 14th Streets, bending and grabbing bits of debris.
“I work in Toledo,” said Jobe, who lives in Ida and brought her son to the event. “I know it’s a good cause.”
Julie Walker, who was bent over clearing bushes, said she worked for Toledo Metro Federal Credit Union and decided to volunteer to show her support.
“Vice president of Lending Michael Plath is on the board of the UpTown Association and I decided to come out and get things cleaned up,” Walker said. “There’s so much stuff from this crazy winter.”
Tags: Cherry Street Mission, Hillcrest Apartments, Julie Champa, Marty Lahey, Mercy College, OhioLINK, Paul Sullivan, Rachel Richardson, Russ Wozniak, Spring Cleanup, The Toledo Club, UpTown Association