Great Jersey City Cleanup: Pulling Our Weight

The 2nd Annual Great Jersey City Cleanup will be held in honor of Earth Day on April 29, 2017.

“We hope to mobilize residents and civic organizations, community leaders, and elected officials to roll up their sleeves and help clean our city on a single day,” says Maria Elena Aguilar-Ambrossi, Jersey City Heights representative on the citywide board.

Keep Jersey City Clean

“Last year we picked up fourteen tons of garbage citywide and had over 1,000 volunteers. In the next couple of weeks I will be meeting with civic, neighborhood and park groups to allocate resource in areas of need. I will also be meeting with schools, business leaders and religious institutions to participate in this effort.

“I care about the streets being dirty,” she said. “Instead of complaining, I decided to do something about it.”

Aguilar-Ambrossi’s job as the Heights representative is to arrange resources and to register volunteers and captains for the neighborhood.

“We were very organized last year. We had the majority of volunteers. That’s because the Heights has a lot of great civic organizations. Washington Park Association, Riverview Neighborhood Association, Leonard Gordon Park Conservancy, Sparrow Hill, Pershing Field – also the Sgt. Anthony Park Association. I spoke to committee members and I asked them to step up to the plate. In the Heights, we had over 500 volunteers registered. It rained, unfortunately, but we still got 266 volunteers out.”

Councilman Michael Yun provided breakfast and lunch for Ward D’s volunteers, and even sent food to Ward C, too. (The Heights includes all of Ward D and part of Ward C.)

“Yes,” said Yun, “Of course I will provide both breakfast and lunch this year too.”

The size of the neighborhood did not deter Heights clean up crews.

“We cleaned all the parks in the Heights, all the school areas, the major streets – Palisade, Kennedy, Summit, Paterson Plank Road, Central Ave. – and the troubled areas like Ravine Road,” said Aguilar-Ambrossi.

Neighborhood and civic groups help organizers like Aguilar Ambrossi identify which places need to be targeted.

“Once we identify a problem area, we can clean it up and set up surveillance. It took a lot of networking and advocacy to stop Ravine from being a dumping site. A mural program and constant vigilance helped it. If another area has become a dumping site, the people who live next to that area will be able to tell us about it so we can cease that dumping too.”

Want to help? Get involved by enrolling in the City of Service website. They’re looking for captains and volunteers, as well as sponsors. Volunteers should plan to bring gloves, brooms and dustpans, while sponsors can provide money, food, and/or supplies.

And for those who don’t believe that cleaning up litter is their responsibility, Aguilar-Ambrossi has this to say. “It’s already there. If we don’t pick it up, it’s not going to get picked up. It’s one of those things that we as a community have to get together to figure out.”

Yun concurs.

“We, as Jersey City residents, must take pride in our city. A cleaner city is a happier and healthier city.”

Posted by

Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

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