Sunday, April 22, 2018 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Verneka Smith cleans up a Maywood garden during the annual Village Pride Village Wide cleanup event on April 21. | Shanel Romain
Nearly 400 people registered to volunteer at Village Pride Village Wide in Maywood on April 21 — Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet Jr. among them.
Norfleet, along with a band of village workers and a few volunteers, dug shovels into a large mound of wood chips that would comprise a layer of protection on the floor of a playground in back of the Maywood Public Library.
Village of Maywood employees lay down wood chips in a Maywood Park on April 21 during Village Pride Village Wide. | Shanel Romain
As the group shoveled, other village officials — including Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins and members of the Board of Trustees — fanned out with the hundreds of volunteers to tackle a range of deep cleaning tasks.
A group of students from Irving Middle School in Maywood gathered with the school’s principal, Michelle Hassan, and an art teacher, Jenna Kerndl, to paint a park bench in the school’s maroon color scheme.
Irving Middle School Principal Michelle Hassan prepares to paint a park bench with a group of Irving students on April 21. | Shanel Romain
“This is about getting the community involved and allowing residents to have a chance to say that they played a part in making the area green, clean and safe,” Norfleet said. “This is an excellent way to do it.”
Roughly a mile away, at the Peace Garden on the corner of 17th Ave. and Madison St. in Maywood, a group of roughly a dozen volunteers pruned plants, picked weeds and filled garbage bags.
Barbara Cole, left, with volunteers in the Peace Garden on 17th Ave. and Madison St. on April 21. | Shanel Romain
Barbara Cole, the founder of Maywood Youth Mentoring — the organization behind the garden — said that the annual Village Pride event allows her and her team an opportunity to spruce up the garden ahead of the summer.
The annual cleanup is planned by the Maywood Environmental and Beautification Commission, whose members said that this year’s cleanup was a success despite the chilly, overcast weather.
Michael Robinson cleans off a wheel inside of the garden at 17th Ave. and Madison St. in Maywood on April 21. | Shanel Romain
The Proviso East Marching Band took to the hill in back of the Maywood Police Department to perform for volunteers just before they dispersed to their respective cleaning areas.
For some volunteers, such as students and teachers at nearby Emerson Elementary in Maywood, those areas were just a brisk walk away from the gazebo on Oak Street, where the event started.
Village Manager Willie Norfleet Jr. helps lay some wood chips on April 21. | Shanel Romain
For others, such as members of Proviso Partners for Health, the local alliance dedicated to advancing healthy activities and eating, the event was an opportunity to spread word about various healthy initiatives, including a campaign to raise the minimum tobacco purchasing age in Maywood from 18 to 21.
Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, third from left, during the April 21 Village Pride Village Wide cleanup. | Shanel Romain
Those efforts by PP4H were recently acknowledged by the Illinois Department of Public Health, which presented the organization with an award to in recognition of “Contributions to the Health Of Illinois.”
Saturday’s cleanup was consistent with PP4H’s overall effort.
Photos taken by volunteers during the annual Village Pride Village Wide cleanup. | Courtesy Karin Thompson and Lorenzo Webber of Proviso Partners 4 Health.