Garfield Middle School teachers will be picking up most of the trash in this afternoon’s cleanup of Hamilton’s North End neighborhood.
Twenty-six teachers, and nearly 10 residents will be pitching in to make the community cleaner, said Joanne Wallisch, a Rossville neighborhood but in recent years has fostered efforts to strengthen the neighborhood organization in the North End as part of Hamilton’s 17Strong program.
She praised Garfield Principal Paige Patton-Radel and physical education teacher Jimmy Sizemore for their efforts to help the North End, where the school is located.
“Jimmy is new to our group, but said, ‘You know what? If we’re having a cleanup, the teachers should help. And he’s the one who organized that,” Wallisch said.
Volunteers will work for about two hours, gathering at around 4 p.m. at John R. Moser Park, located at 7th and Heaton streets. The city will supply bags, gloves and trucks for the garbage. Before work begins, however, volunteers will pose for a photo.
“All volunteers are happily accepted,” said Wallisch, who in March received one of the Hamilton Vision Commission’s Vision Awards for her decades-long dedication to Hamilton neighborhoods.
17Strong is Hamilton’s effort to strengthen all its 17 neighborhoods, build community pride, and better connect the neighborhoods with city government and the rest of Hamilton.
“I think they’re awesome volunteers, and am very grateful to have their help and level of commitment in the North End,” Wallisch said about the educators. “And I think they’re setting a great example for the kids.”
Council member Kathleen Klink, who helped launch 17Strong and is a former long-time educator, said she’s “flabergasted, and overjoyed” by the volunteering teachers.
The cleanup started after Ros and Bill West, longtime neighborhood residents, attended a meet-and-greet with city leaders at the park in August and suggested a cleanup. They’ve been active with RENEW (REvitalizing the North End from Within) about a year.
Wallisch said Patton-Radel “has been a huge supporter for RENEW.” She first was principal at Fairwood Elementary, but went to Wilson Middle School for a year before returning to the North End at Garfield.
“We were so thrilled to have her back in the North End because she’s just a ball of energy, and she’s one of the most positive people I’ve ever met,” Wallisch said. Then Sizemore became involved, “and he stepped up his very first meeting, and offered to help.”
Klink said she was at a RENEW meeting and saw Sizemore tell everyone, “’We’ve got to do something. We just can’t be observers. We have to be active.‘”
“How cool is that?” Klink said.
“All of our communities are getting a little bit stronger, the ones that have residents’ councils,” Wallisch said. “The North End, we have more momentum going, and you can visibly see the changes that have taken place in the park at 7th and Heaton.”
Klink and Wallisch said the East End and Jefferson neighbohoods, and Downtown, which is represented by a group called PROUD, have increasing momentum, as have Highland Park, the Millikin area and Prospect Hill.
In Prospect Hill, residents wrote, printed and delivered a newsletter door-to-door to all residents in their area, Klink said.
RENEW meets the second Thursday of each month at the Hamilton Dream Center, 725 Campbell Ave., except when meetings are at Moser Park during the summer in good weather.
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