HANFORD — What started as an idea to take care of problematic areas in the city has become an event to bring people together within the community, while doing a lot of good for each other.
On Sunday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. the first ever Community Cleanup Day is scheduled to take place.
The idea started with Hanford City Council members Art Brieno and Francisco Ramirez.
Brieno said while he and Ramirez were running their campaigns for City Council last year, they began talking about taking a closer look at areas in the city that are left with a lot of trash, particularly between 11th and 12th avenues near the railroad tracks where homeless encampments have been located.
Brieno said when areas like that are left with trash and other debris, it does not reflect well on the community. He said he began contacting different churches and groups to see if they were willing to help with cleaning and picking up trash.
“It always starts with where you live,” Brieno said. “It’s everyone’s community.”
The area was cleaned last month by the Hanford Police Department and railroad employees, who collected and disposed of 62 tons of trash.
While that area and others like it do get cleaned up by different groups periodically, Brieno said left behind trash is still a chronic problem for the city because those who are homeless don’t have the means to dispose of their trash or unwanted belongings.
Recently, Ramirez said he’s seen stories on social media about local people and children helping clean up parks. These stories finally spurred him and Brieno to set a date for the event and invite the whole community. He said he invited Councilman Martin Devine, who was on board.
“That’s what leaders do — they go out, put their gloves on and get to work,” Brieno said.
While the exact locations for the cleanups are yet to be determined, Ramirez said the group will start small with places like parks and other safe areas. He hopes that little by little, areas will get cleaned and it will benefit the entire town.
Ultimately, Ramirez said the goal of the event is to have an impact on Hanford by showing people what can be accomplished if they invest in their local community.
“You just need to give people the tools,” Ramirez said.
He also believes that in doing these types of events, citizens will get to know each other while doing something good for the whole community. Not to mention, they will get a certificate of appreciation and can add the volunteer hours to their resumes.
Ramirez said the first few events will be trial and error to figure out what works, but he and Brieno both hope this will catch on and perhaps become a monthly event. Brieno said if just 10 volunteers work those three hours, he believes a lot will be accomplished.
Ramirez promises that the current Council will be more proactive and Brieno said members are looking forward to discussing the growing homeless problem and developing a commission that will try to solve some of the overall issues.
“We want to have a community that’s healthy,” Brieno said.