Lents volunteers host ‘Neighborhood Cleanup’

Out of all Portland neighborhoods, find how the Lents Neighborhood Association was able to host the only ‘bulky waste clean-up’ anywhere in the city, this year …

In outer East Portland, in a church parking long on Mt. Scott, volunteers help neighbors pitch refuse, too large for roll cans, into a drop box.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On October 3, volunteers with the Lents Neighborhood Association (LNA) – against all odds – held an astonishingly successful event: the only “Community Collection Event” held in the whole metropolitan area this year.

It took determination and pluck to pull it off – because, several years ago, METRO stopped providing vouchers for neighborhood bulky waste clean-up dumping disposal fees. And, this past July, the City of Portland Bureau of Planing and Sustainability announced they were abandoning “Community Collection Events” altogether.

Neighbors across Portland mourned the loss of cleanups like these, in which neighborhood associations could sponsor large drop boxes where folks can dump – usually for a small donation – the larger refuse items that don’t fit in their roll carts.

“We needed to have this,” says cleanup organizer Jennifer Breedlove.

As impossible as it may have seemed, ten socially-distanced volunteers – all wearing face coverings and gloves – were busy in the Mt. Scott Church parking lot on Saturday morning, October 3rd, helping the neighbors arriving a seemingly never-ending stream of vehicles to dispose of their rubbish.

Credited for making this unlikely “Community Collection Event” happen was LNA Land Use Committee Chair Jennifer Breedlove.

“I took this on because, well, our Lents neighbors wanted and needed it,” Breedlove told East Portland News.

Lents Fair Event Coordinator Robert Schultz was among the volunteers, checking in vehicles to the community cleanup.

The goal of the trash collection was keeping large, discarded items off neighborhood streets and properties – and, at the same time, to educate the community about proper disposal and resources for disposal of unwanted items. It also helped build community through volunteer opportunities and coming together for a common cause, Breedlove explained.

“With what I’ve learned through my corporation, Four Forces Inc., in which we bridge the gap between community, corporations, and the government to make things happen, I knew to reach out to Arrow Sanitary and Waste Management and other partners, to make sure we could get it done,” explained Breedlove.

More trash goes into drop boxes, with the help of volunteers.

And, “get it done” they did. The cleanup officially opened at 9 a.m. that morning – but, of the three drop boxes delivered to the site, one was full and ready to haul away by then, and the other two were filled by 10:30 a.m.

“We’re grateful for our partnerships with Arrow Sanitary, Waste Management, and the Community Connection Center here at Mt. Scott Church – and, for our volunteers,” said LNA Chair Sabina Urdes.

“The problem with trash that’s on our streets and building up in yards is that it does not stop, or pause, just because there is a pandemic,” acknowledged Urdes. “We also know that funds are tight for a lot of people who can’t afford a run to the dump or recycling center.

“If all goes well we will do it again in the spring,” Urdes said.

Gathered for a team photo are many of the volunteers that made the “Lents Community Collection Event” a success.

For more information about the Lents Neighborhood Association, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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