By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – Maggie Mehr is a firm believer in something she holds close to her heart: When you show someone you care, it makes everyone feel better.
Mehr, along with an impressive number of volunteers and residents, displayed that genuine, tangible compassion Saturday morning and early afternoon when they flooded Lutheran Street in the City of Newburgh and went to work, helping to beautify it. The arduous efforts were a continuation of the community-minded volunteer group, Keep Newburgh Beautiful, who recently helped assist with the cleanup of other nearby streets. Residents, like Paul Sanders, wanted to be involved and bring that love and care to his street as well.
“It is very important to keep the neighborhood clean, because when children come outside and see it cluttered, it affects their attitude and personality, getting them down, but if everybody plays a part in just picking up trash in front of him-her, rather than walking by it, a snowflake is created,” said Sanders. “Then more and more people help, and it becomes a snowball, getting bigger and bigger, and the community all comes together.”
That exact scenario was evident Saturday, as a full community effort was on display on Lutheran Street. That “snowflake” started with the residents, and the “snowball” rapidly emerged, as Keep Newburgh Beautiful got involved, as did the City of Newburgh Fire Department, the City of Newburgh Water Department, the Head of Codes Department, Taylor Dumpster in Montgomery, as well as several politicians, including; City of Newburgh Councilmen Anthony Grice and Ramona Monteverde.
Grice, who spearheaded Saturday’s cleanup which filled a dumpster in just 90 minutes, stressed it was not done so in response to social media posts, yet one made to the needs of constituents in his district. Marveling at the way the community pulled together for a common, much-needed purpose, he could not have been more pleased with the way the day turned out.
“This community has been asking for support for a long time, and I was very happy to help out,” said Grice. “Seeing the Fire Department all marching down the street in their uniform tee-shirts while working together to help clean the streets was just beautiful; they even cooked breakfast sandwiches, hotdogs and hamburgers for everyone which was so big and really touched me.” Grice added, “Community service is big for me, so the fact that these people came out shows a lot, and made me see them in a much different light; it’s just so important to build these kinds of relationships.”
Grice also provided free books to residents throughout the day. He was fiscally assisted in his efforts by Planning and Development. The funding played a pivotal role; however, it was dedicated volunteers, who unselfishly gave of their time and hearts, which truly fueled this memorable day.
“It was a very productive day in Newburgh; at least 15 residents came out to talk to us on this two-and-a-half block area, so that’s a great turnout,” said Keep Newburgh Beautiful long-time member and Moderator for its Facebook page, Linda Jansen. “The message we heard was ‘Thank you for doing this cleanup;’ there was also concern expressed about the safety for their children playing outside.”
Mehr, who along with Jansen, have been consistently involved in these types of street beautification efforts for the past three years, echoed similar sentiments about the day’s positive impact.
“I started picking up trash in the City of Newburgh three years ago; I’ve lived here for over 30 years, and it’s the thing that has bothered me so much,” said Mehr, who pointed out the extreme need for as well as appreciation of these cleanups expressed by residents. “I believe in the City of Newburgh; we are a group of very diverse people who can make it more beautiful than it already is, and we are making a difference.”