It's begun. Keep Rockland Beautiful (KRB) kicked off the 2012 Great American Cleanup (GAC) on Tuesday with a breakfast for the people and board members of Keep Rockland Beautiful, key sponsors and crucial volunteer organizers. They met at t in New City.
"With the cleanup this year, we're looking at educating people," said Sonia Cairo, director of KRB. "We're off to a very strong start. We already have (more than 40) teams registered."
Thousands of Rockland County residents team up in groups from just a handful of people to hundreds to remove tons of litter from streets, parks and waterways as part of an effort to make communities cleaner, healthier and more beautiful.
"I think it's great. The organization is something Rockland needs and they're doing a great job," said Gary Parahus of Gary's Gutter Service.
"Our goal is to partner with organizations like KRB to minimize the waste that's being generated and find outlets to reuse, recycle and reduce," said Kerri Scales, solid waste educator of the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority.
There is also a new initiative this year: School Bag-A-Thon. Students can go out and clean up their neighborhoods and pledge dollars will go to support their school's PTA.
"Schools are really hurting for money. This is a way to get more enthusiasm for the clean up and they do it on behalf of the school," said Cairo. "They can get pledges per trash bag they collect or per hour they volunteer for."
"It's great that we have so much support," said R. Spencer Lauterbach, counselor of law in New City and KRB board president. "(Andy Stewart) has brought it to where it is today. The two most important things are to educate kids and to stop throwing things out of our windows."
Cairo is the new director of KRB this year after Andy Stewart was elected as Orangetown Town Supervisor last November.
"Things are well in hand (since I've left)," said Stewart. "I'm excited to start up my clean up team on April 21 at (Orangetown) Town Hall. We do plan on pushing it in Orangetown and getting as many groups as possible." He's going to lead his groups to the Clausland Mountain Trail, do habitat restoration and the rail trail project in Blauvelt.
"O&R has been involved in KRB since the inception," said Michelle Damiani, O&R manager of public affairs, KRB board member and New City resident. "We're continuing on with the mission of KRB in making people aware of their community. I was born and raised in Rockland. I'd like to keep it clean, keep it nice, keep it pretty."
In 2011, over 3,000 volunteers participated in the county and more than 3 million volunteers nationwide. Check out the website to find out how to form a group of join an existing one.
"It's an amazing event and hundreds come out. It's good to see that we're not alone in wanting to keep our towns clean," said Wayne Ballard, Clarkstown highway superintendent. "It helps each other to team up and move forward together to find efficient ways to clean up our community. As an elected official and highway superintendent, we have to find ways to do more with less."
"We also need financial sponsors. Without them, this organization cannot operate," said Sara Tucker of HSBC and a KRB board treasurer. "Our funds have been cut and any business you can spread the word to about sponsoring, we'd very much appreciate." Sponsors can get recognized on a t-shirt or banner.
The KRB website has all the information you'd need from an interactive map and spreadsheet of current cleanups, Bag-a-thon information and photo galleries of clean ups past.
"We're coordinating community clean ups with all types of groups—scouts, school groups—and they all do a full day of clean up," said Donna Drygas, Nanuet resident and is on the KRB Advisory committee. "All the small communities pick a day too."
Community Cleanups (organized to date):
- Nanuet Community Cleanup: April 14 (raindate April 15)
- Stony Point Community Cleanup: April 14
- Congers Community Cleanup: April 21
- Spring Valley Community Cleanup: April 21 (raindate April 22)
- Nyack Community Cleanup: April 22 (raindate April 29)
- Pearl River Community Cleanup: April 28 (raindate April 29)