Kenneth D. Elder, a resident of Eastside Franklin Park, stands in his backyard overlooking a yard behind his home that was cleaned up on May 15. Jenifer Veloso | Flintside
The backyard that borders Elder's backyard progressively grew as an illegal dumping spot for several years before residents cleaned it up on May 15. Jenifer Veloso | Flintside
Dr. Bobby Mukkamala helps load trash into a dumpster in the Eastside Franklin Park Neighborhood on May 15. Jenifer Veloso | Flintside
Residents filled two dumpsters during a neighborhood cleanup in Eastside Franklin Park on May 15. Jenifer Veloso | Flintside
FLINT, Michigan -- A citywide cleanup on May 15 had residents in neighborhoods in each ward of Flint working together to haul trash, beautify, and show pride in where they live. The symbolism of seeing so many people pull together for the cause was important for residents of Flint’s Eastside Franklin Park neighborhood.
Kenneth Elder lives on Missouri Avenue and has been dealing with an overwhelming amount of illegal dumping in the yard that borders his backyard for several years. He has previously sought out help to do some of the cleanup work on his own, but alone, the amount of work seemed astronomical. Having hundreds of volunteers around the city doing similar work was an encouraging sign.
“I have hope, seeing everyone out here cleaning up today,” said Elder, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade. Elder has chosen to stay in Eastside Franklin Park because, “It’s home.”
Like so many other residents of the neighborhood, despite the blight and ongoing difficult changes, Elder refuses to give up on his home. He worked alongside his neighbors on Saturday as part of the solution during the neighborhood cleanup.
The citywide cleanup was organized by the Neighborhood Engagement Hub, with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Cleanups were organized in all nine wards, with more than 100 residents participating. Residents were able to borrow equipment, throw trash in dumpsters throughout the city, and access other resources. Another citywide cleanup is tentatively planned for September.
In Eastside Franklin Park, which is in the 4th ward of the city, two dumpsters were placed on Missouri and Vernon Avenue for community members to discard any litter or dumped trash found in the neighborhood. Residents gathered at 10 a.m. and worked until nearly 3 p.m.
By the end of the day, the two dumpsters were completely filled by residents with the hopes of making positive changes for the neighborhood and creating an environment that will bring a better future for Eastside Franklin Park.
“You can move mountains with a few people,” said Edna Sabbuco, the leader of the Eastside Franklin Park Neighborhood Group. “Ashley, Michelle, and Laura at the Neighborhood Engagement Hub, along with Kate Fields our councilperson, have been working with me to try to facilitate things as well. Gary Hicks from Republic Waste has also been working on this with us.”