Finding the 'Neighbor' in Neighborhood Clean-Up!

On Saturday, October 15 the South Central Neighborhood Association, under the hard work and leadership of Janet and Jackie, hosted the annual neighborhood clean-up. 

That doesn’t sound like much fun. And really, it presents plenty of challenges. There is heavy lifting, smelly trash, old mattresses, and lots and lots of tires. But, I think you would be surprised how much beauty there is in a trash clean-up day! 

I saw beauty in the mix of people who came to help. When we gathered at 7:45 on Saturday morning I was amazed to find well over 20 students from South High School! They are members of the National Honor Society, who need volunteer hours. But as they laughed, talked, and got ready for the day, I was struck by their genuine willingness to be there. 

There were also the workers from Waste Connections who were willing to work (or maybe volunteer) on a Saturday to help beautify SoCe. I even recognized one of the workers from last year. They cracked jokes and joyfully engaged the volunteers and the neighbors. They drove 3 trash packers through the neighborhood while volunteers walked behind loading trash into the packers.  

There were two workers from the city of Wichita, who were willing to work on a Saturday rather than be with their families. Their job was to drive two dump trucks through the neighborhood and pick up old tires.  And while tires are usually heavy, and often contain nasty water, they both were enjoying themselves and encouraging folks. I got to ride in one of the dump trucks with a worker, who actually lives in SoCe! And he kept commenting on how amazing the turnout of volunteers was. All told, we collected close to 300 tires!

And then at Immanuel Baptist Church there was a drop-off site where people could bring large items to be thrown in two roll-off dumpsters. When I got there I found another 15 volunteers welcoming people with smiles and help. There were even kids helping out! This group was made up of folks from the church as well as the neighborhood--and one of our Wichita police officers. It was a great coming-together! 

There is one more group I have to name who made the morning such a blast: the folks who lived along the streets where we picked up trash. At many of the houses where we stopped, individuals came out to help us load things up. We were able to visit with them, thank them, and they thanked us. It was the type of positive interaction I love to witness!

The punchline of having all these different people come together was that the work was accomplished in a reasonable amount of time. Mark and I were finished shortly after 11:00, and I felt more enriched than drained. That is the power of this type of beautiful work! 

P.S. It never crossed my mind to take pictures of the day--sorry about that.