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West side neighborhood clean up creates pride

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Posted at 6:55 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 23:41:17-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Caring about your neighborhood and addressing the needs of that neighborhood can go a long way to bettering your community. It's why the City of Indianapolis is restarting its neighborhood clean up program later this month.

On June 30, the city will restart its neighborhood cleanup program in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood on the near east side after a year long pause because of the pandemic.

But for some neighborhoods, the effort never ended. On the west side, a group of volunteers held their own clean up initiative, collecting six tons of trash.

“We never expected six tons of garbage to be picked up on our streets,” Ryan Heathco, lead pastor with Ben Davis Christian Church said. "Back in March, it became apparent that there is just a lot of garbage lying around on street corners and gutters, blocking drains and it started to create a whole lot of problems.”

So he teamed up with City-County Councillor Jared Evans, MSD of Wayne Township Superintendent Dr. Jeff Butts, as well as other township trustees, and asked people over a period of two days to clean up the trash where they live or work. They're calling the event, "Love Where You Are, ”and the results were astonishing.

“As many as 800 volunteers serving with so many hands at the plow, we were able to pick up 1,212 bags of trash, three couches, some firearms and a lot of tires,” Heathco said.

And it didn't stop there.

“In the weeks that followed, I had a number of people contact me and say, hey, I want to continue the cleanup effort. I want to organize some of my friends or my neighbors or my church group," he said. “And so we were able to give them some supplies and resources, some tips.”

Heathco explained the effects have spread wider than having a cleaner neighborhood.

“This was more than making our streets beautiful, ultimately what we wanted to do was inspire pride of ownership,” he said. “We wanted people to own the community, be proud of the community that when they see a piece of garbage they stop and pick it up.”

Knowing that the impacts of simply cleaning up where you live do so much more.

“Statistically speaking, neighbors that talk, those neighborhoods have less crime. So when you’re connected, you’re living in a far more safe place and I personally believe that when you keep things clean, you’re sending a message out to everybody that we care. We care about this place and we are proud of it,” he added.

Heathco's hope is this will create pathways for investment and companies to come in and create jobs as a way for people to provide for their families.

“So the small changes, it’s not like we’re going to change everything in a 48-hour clean up, but we can be the start.”

The City of Indianapolis is proud to have several city and community partners assisting with the Martindale-Brightwood clean up, including the Department of Public Works (DPW), Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc., (KIB), Safeway (Brightwood location), Edna Martin Christian Center, Indianapolis Public Library (Martindale-Brightwood branch), and Young Men Inc. Youth Ministry “Boys to Men” Summer Empowerment Camp & Mentoring (YMI).

During the event, volunteers will walk through the alleys and streets of Martindale-Brightwood to clean up discarded trash and illegally dumped debris and materials, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Participants will be asked to wear face masks and to practice social distancing during the cleanup. All cleaning supplies and water will be provided.

Anyone interested in volunteering can sign-up at