Itâ€™s a sure sign of spring - and itâ€™s happening all over central Connecticut. Neighbors joining neighbors to clean up streets and parks, pitching in to erase the wear and tear of winter.
We saw it on Saturday at New Britainâ€™s North Oak Neighborhood Revitalization Zoneâ€™s annual community cleanup day, with police, city officials and residents as well as students and faculty from Central Connecticut State University, coming together to spruce up the area.
â€śIf the community looks nicer, it feels more inviting, and parents will feel more comfortable living here,â€ť said Omar Ghannam, who donated $5 McDonaldâ€™s gift cards to the first 40 youths who volunteered, as a way of getting young people involved.
And the effort makes them feel safer, too, weâ€™d guess.
One of the pillars of community policing is to help people feel involved and connected to their neighborhoods, looking out for each other - and nothing does that as effectively giving residents ownership in their own streets. In fact, North Oak NRZ Secretary Yvette Ghannam said that the NRZ is hoping that the next step would be to organize a neighborhood watch group to patrol the area weekly.
These community cleanups have become a tradition in many towns over the last few years, as residents come together to remove litter, pick up broken glass and, sometimes, even needles, and generally clear the way for spring. Their good work saves taxpayer dollars and, at the same time, offers young people a way to get involved - especially when their parents, teachers and scout or sports leaders set the example.
We salute the organizers and all of you who will join a cleanup in your own neighborhood in the coming weeks.