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Growing pride on Indianapolis' Far Eastside: Dozens take to the streets for a community cleanup day

Far Eastside Community Cleanup
Posted at 11:50 PM, Apr 16, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — "When you go in an area and you see trash, and you see things that are overgrown, it makes you feel like nobody cares about your community," says Cheria Caldwell, Vice President of Communications and Engagement for the Community Alliance of the Far East Side (CAFE).

Starting at 8:30 Saturday morning - on a holiday weekend - residents on Indianapolis' Far Eastside were already hard at work.

"I grew up over here. I work over here. I went to school here. This is somewhere I've always been, and I want to make sure we're taking care of the area," said volunteer Chris Hill.

The Far Eastside Community Cleanup is an annual event organized by the Far Eastside Community Council and CAFE.

"I was surprised when you called and wanted to do an interview. Because usually the news only comes for bad things. And there are a lot of positive things that are happening here in the community all the time," Caldwell said.

Every year the people of the Far Eastside bring passion and drive. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIBI) brings the shovels and other resources.

"It's amazing. People really care about their communities. And if you give them the chance to get involved, they will step up and do so. And that's clear today," says Ben Valentine, KIBI's director of foundation and corporate relations.

This year, a group of about 60 volunteers worked together to transform an abandoned lot into green space. One day, that space will become an orchard and a vegetable garden.

Whether it's a plant or a neighborhood, Cheri Hood will always jump at the chance to grow something beautiful.

"Some people, they'll look at this, or look at a tiny seed and say, 'It will take forever.' But before you know it, we get a good rain, and a lot of sun, everything will sprout up and there's food to eat," she said.

"It's important to give back. To show other people that the Far Eastside is important," said volunteer Shay Allen.

The green space project to funded by a grant from the Glick Family Foundation.

"I think just looking at the space three hours ago to now, seeing what it is, and what it will continue to be. Having this green space for kids to play, I think is something that will impact the community for years to come," said Ben Grande, corporate social responsibility manager at Gene B. Glick Company.

"Seeing so many of the residents coming out and coming together, to beautify their own neighborhood is wonderful," said Marianne Glick, chairman of the board at the Glick Family Foundation.

Hood and Hill say they're proud to live on the Far Eastside.

"I've been here 30 years, and I guess I'm here to stay," Hood said.

"That's why I'm out here right now," Hill said.

You can organize your own neighborhood cleanup, or participate in KIBI's Great Indy Cleanup next weekend. Visit KIBI's website for more information about how you can get involved.