On a warm spring Saturday in mid-April, a group of dedicated Boone County Family Resources volunteers came together to help with the community-wide Clean Up Columbia day of service. More than 1,400 volunteers organized by the City of Columbia pitch in together and clean up their neighborhood, business or public property in order to keep Columbia looking good. Participants receive a free t-shirt and lunch for their efforts, along with a sense of pride for helping keep their community clean.
Members of the Janitorial Work Team as well as members from People First of Boone County joined staff from BCFR to work on clean up duties around the BCFR main office and the neighborhood surrounding it. This included picking up trash and planting some flowers and veggies in the BCFR garden in our back courtyard.
“This is my first time doing this,” said Becca, a member of the BCFR Janitorial Crew and soon to be member of the summer BCFR Landscape Crew. “I like it so far.” The team of 10 volunteers split up the work with half heading out to pick up trash along Walnut Street and down College Avenue.
Mark Satterwhite, Director of Life & Work Connections at BCFR helped lead a team picking up trash in the designated area. “Becca and Cody joined a couple People First members and other volunteers in cleaning up College Avenue from Walnut Street north to the railroad tracks. It was nice to see them interacting with others in a common effort, as well as with appreciative
Maya Tarter, Client Services Coordinator at BCFR coordinated the clean-up efforts. “I really enjoyed the collaboration of staff, clients and community members joining together to clean up our town.” neighbors who occasionally stepped out on their porches to extend greetings and thanks.”
Cody, a member of the BCFR Janitorial Crew has participated in Clean Up Columbia for the last two years. He reported that he felt needed by the team because “I have a good eye for trash and the free food doesn’t hurt either.”
“While both Becca and Cody receive skills training services by paid agency staff, the Clean Up Columbia event offered them augmentative opportunities to engage with others – not as trainees or service recipients – but as fellow concerned citizens, doing their part to clean up the town,” said Mark. “The clean up on our stretch of College yielded 8 bags of trash and recyclables. Afterward, lunch was served to a crowd of hundreds of volunteers at Twin Lakes Recreation Area, offering additional opportunities for commonality and socialization, beyond disability. I’m happy to be part of an agency that values and participates in inclusive community events like this.”
Another exciting part of the experience was that the Clean Up Columbia group was also working side-by-side with 22 college students participating in the MU annual day of service “Caring 4 Columbia.” The students joined the BCFR team in tidying up the property and surrounding area. During a break in the action, everyone enjoyed chatting with each other and learning more about the services BCFR provides in the community and all about People First of Boone County, a grass-roots self-advocacy organization for people with disabilities.
“I like helping out. It’s the right thing to do,” said Jason, a member of People First. “It was also great to talk to the college students to tell them about who we are, too.”