Faith group helps outer East Portland neighbors at massive ‘clean-up’

See which church members spent a day packing up trash at this annual neighborhood event – and discover why they volunteered …

Jesten Arnold, Mike VanHook, Charles DeKar, and Pastor Scott Bradley, from the Parkrose Abundant Life Church, unload a pickup truck full of junk at the 2009 East Portland Neighborhood Clean-up.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many neighborhoods stage clean-up days, during which folks can come drop off trash, broken furniture, yard debris, old tires, and such. But, the annual East Portland Neighborhood Organization’s area-wide clean-up day is a massive undertaking – it helps people living in all 13 neighborhoods in its neighborhood coalition get rid of trash.

“This effort helps improve the quality of life here,” explained this year’s organizer and Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors chair, Carol Williams. “This clean-up helps, because it keeps junk – like discarded couches, mattresses and other big pieces of furniture – from being left in yards, or discarded on the side of the road. And, it gives people an economical way to discard yard debris that builds up over the winter.”

This year’s clean-up organizer, Carol Williams, keeps a close watch on the event, and answers questions while she helps coordinate the volunteers’ activity.

Not only does “getting the trash out” improve the looks of the neighborhoods, Williams added, it also helps keep down vector populations of rodents and mosquitoes.

Russell Neighborhood Co-Chair Bonny McKnight spoke up, telling us that Williams really took charge of the event this year. “Her name and phone number was on every flyer and ad; she took the drop-off reservations, and coordinated the neighborhood volunteers at the event. It’s wonderful having a great community volunteer like Carol Williams working with us on this project.”

Neighbor Marian Aleckson checks in with Hazelwood Neighborhood Association Chair Arlene Kimura at the clean-up event.

Volunteers pitch in pitching trash
About twenty neighbors from eight EPNO neighborhood associations pitched in, as did four Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Cadets. They helped unload trash and yard debris from cars, pickup trucks, and trailers – about 350 vehicles in all.

But what really helped move things along, Williams noted, were the 42 hard-working volunteers from a local church group.

Scott Bradley, the Campus Pastor of the Parkrose Abundant Life Church at SE 116th Avenue at SE Prescott Street, smiled, as he worked side-by-side with his parishioners.

“We believe that partnering with the community is the best way for us to reach out and demonstrate that we care,” explained Bradley. “We’re not just trying to attract people to church; we want to be part of the community and help out. We look for strategic partnerships. We value good relationships – the best way to create lasting relationships is to serve the community.”

David Douglas High School students Stoney Rose and David Long work hard at the event – pitching trash from truck to dumpster.

Dumpsters loaded to the brim
For hours, vehicles laden with trash of all descriptions came to the parking lot at NE 122nd Avenue and NE Halsey Street and, eventually, the debris filled more than a dozen industrial-size dumpsters.

“We also took in about 100 discarded tires today,” reported Williams after the event. She added that discarded-but-serviceable bicycles were set aside for needy kids.

Abundant Life Church volunteer James Scheetz is diggin’ in, at the yard debris dumpster.

By 2:30 p.m., the parking lot was swept clean, and the last of the dumpsters was being picked up. The event took in about $1,800, we learned. “In all, I’d say this was a very successful event this year. It went smoothly – people got in and out in about 10 minutes. We are grateful for the help of all of our volunteers,” noted Williams.

Dumpster by dumpster – neighbors filled ’em up.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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