West End Pride cleanup touches 30 square blocks

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 28, 2012

By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY — Just after 8 a.m. Saturday, three teams of volunteers set out from Trinity Presbyterian Church on South Caldwell Street, on a mission.
Armed with tools and trash bags, they scooped up litter from curbs and embankments.
Everything from broken cellphones to discarded bottles was carefully bagged and gathered.
Before the heat of the day set in, they were on their way to celebrate a new beginning.
Although the first West End Pride cleanup day might not have drawn as many volunteers as organizers hoped, it was a good first step.
Mark Hunter, chairman of West End Pride, oversaw the cleanup.
The group is made up of residents, members of area churches and Livingstone College staff and students.
The 25 volunteers fanned out from Trinity Presbyterian, covering some 30 square blocks in less than two hours.
Wearing bright reflective vests and nametags, they greeted neighbors who were out working in their own yards, or enjoying the morning air on their porches.
Hunter said he understood why many people would rather stay at home on such a morning, especially because of the heat.
But, he said, “I think we had a lovely turnout. I would have liked to have seen more, but I think we did well, considering it was our first endeavor.”
West End Pride’s goal, other than beautification and cooperation, is to inspire and encourage younger members of the community.
This includes the college students who call the neighborhood home.
“A lot of our older members are not able to get out and pick up (litter),” he said.
The solution, Hunter believes, is for residents and especially young people to set a visible example.
“Because this is their community, and they need to stay involved,” Hunter said.
Dominique Watts, a Livingstone College senior majoring in criminal justice, said she was glad to be a part of the effort.
She and other upperclassmen joined prospective students participating in the Summer Bridge Program, a residential college-preparation initiative.
Program director Sylvester Kyles said he was proud of the opportunity to do good in the community.
“This is a way of getting this group a head start, even before the school year starts,” Kyles said.
“They’re meeting people from the community and helping to build relationships.”
Watts agreed. “I feel like this helps the community,” she said, adding that she believes people don’t think youth want to be involved in the places where they live.
Her hope was that residents would be glad to see her and her classmates at work.
On the porch of her home on Partee Street, Ernestine Hunter said hello to Watts and her fellow volunteers as they passed.
“It’s wonderful!” Hunter said, smiling.
Although the yards on Partee Street are generally free from litter — “Over here, we keep ours clean,” she said — Hunter said she is glad to see volunteers at work.
Her neighbor, Debra Strickland, agreed. “Where I used to live, people were throwing stuff in my yard all the time,” she said.
She said she’s glad her current neighborhood isn’t like that.
Besides students and members from Trinity Presbyterian and Moore’s Chapel AME Zion churches, some volunteers came from out of town to show their support.
Valdez and Anansa Welborn, of Durham, used to live in Salisbury. Both studied at Catawba College.
They came to work alongside Anansa’s mother, Yvonne Dixon, who lives on West Bank Street.
“I live in the community, I’m supposed to be out here!” Dixon said, smiling.
For Hunter and other organizers, Saturday’s event was only the beginning.
He said he hopes more young people will be inspired to join in future community efforts, and do their fair share.
“Someone’s got to pick up the torch and run with it,” Hunter said.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.