On May 9, some 235 strewn tires were gathered and recycled by approximately 30 volunteers who made a difference in both the area and the attitude of those in the East Cleveland community, which is an unincorporated area of urbanized Cleveland.
Kelli Kyle, director of community involvement with The Refuge, said, “This is great! The community gets involved and feel encouraged to do more. Like with the tire pickup, we had many people who came by and asked, ‘When are you going to do this again?’
“Our new Blythe Community Association is sending out fliers about the next pickup so the whole community will know when and how to get involved. They’re really taking the initiative, which is our whole purpose — getting them to do it instead of us doing it for them.
“This community does not have the opportunity to get this debris picked up for free. But if we can create that opportunity and they bring the tires and do the clean up themselves — it’s awesome. Two different ladies were saved from being evicted because of this. Their landlord said if they did not get rid of their tires they would evict them. Tires get dumped over here and they didn’t have the money to have them removed. They were just dumped in their yard. One lady over here had like 37 tires dumped in her yard! She was on the verge of eviction when she drove by, saw us working, and asked, ‘Can you come help me?’ We removed her tires. So it’s a huge thing as small as it looks.”
According to Kyle, others in the community, upon seeing their cleanup efforts, started coming out to clean their own yard, even joining in and asking when will they be back again.
“It’s a really cool community gathering, working together — getting rid of stuff that’s a hazard,” Kyle said. “It’s encouraging to them and it lets them know that we’re doing this with them.”
On May 31, volunteers with Clean Cleveland participated in more trash pickup, weed eating, trimming and landscaping in the Blythe area. The next major project will be Aug. 1, according to Kyle, who says that will be a “Day of Action with the United Way.”
“United Way is bringing volunteers, but we’re also inviting the community to come out,” Kyle said. “In the United Way portion of it they’ll bring volunteers and we’ll have them paint stripes in the parking lots and paint the (local) playground. The community is going to want to be involved in that because the entire neighborhood has been asking whenever you do anything with the playground, let us know. They want that to look nicer.”
Terry Johns, director of The Refuge, said, “I think there is a great appreciation from most of the residents about helping with the cleanup. What we discovered is that, especially with tires, people are driving in from outside the community and dumping them. The community has expressed great appreciation that someone would take the time and remove them. It’s expensive to find a way to haul them off and take them to the local dump, which charges for you to dump there.
“We’ve seen people express appreciation. We’ve seen them pitch in and help. It reminds some residents of something that needs doing, and they end up pitching in and helping. They can see we care about this community. It’s created a sense of camaraderie and helped us build relationships with the residents.”
Volunteers for Clean Cleveland are welcome to join in one of the cleanup days by visiting info@refugeCL.org then clicking on the “Volunteer” tab listed last and registering online. You may also call The Refuge at 423-584-5211.