At a recent Rotary Club meeting I had an interesting conversation with Eileen Hunter of Inwood’s Cooper Street. After speaking with her, I learned that over the past nine years, she has taken on the sole responsibility of keeping her street clean. Almost everyday, you can catch her walking up and down her uptown strip, picking up the litter left by those less concerned with Inwood’s continued esthetic improvement.
During our talk, Eileen described to me the details of daily trash cleanup on Cooper Street. Each day she spends a great amount of her time picking up different items that people toss out of their car windows. Of course the majority of repeat offenders are the lazy litter bugs who carelessly drop cigarette butts, soda bottles, and other random items without giving a second thought. There is one specific piece of garbage that Eileen often picks up that she considers to be the most shocking and disturbing. As she put it, “in Inwood we have the added novelty that I haven’t seen in other parts of the city in that used diapers are often discarded at the curb”. This is not only disgusting and unsanitary, but is the third leading cause of unwanted Inwood shoe cleaning (possibly true, but no study conducted).
While many might call her efforts heroic, and others may think it to be a waste of time, the feedback from her neighbors is what matters most to Eileen. Recently, an old tool she had been using for daily cleanup broke. When this was brought to her neighbor’s attention, and without hesitation, a number of them showed their appreciation to her by chipping in to replace it. This act of generosity shows that Eileen’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.
The message we all can learn from Eileen’s hard work and dedication is that an individual can make a difference. However, imagine how beautiful all of Inwood could be if we each took a little time to do our part in keeping the neighborhood clean. Wanting to do my part, I went onto the city’s website last week to apply to adopt a garbage can (http://on.nyc.gov/HXU7rj). Signing up to do this takes only a couple of minutes, but could have a lasting positive impact on the neighborhood.
The Inwood Rotary Club will be sponsoring an event on April 21st to bring awareness to the “greening and cleaning” of Inwood (for more info please visit http://bit.ly/Hf2Cjg). One thing you can do if you are interested in contributing in helping the neighborhood would be to give the Inwood Rotary Club a try. They are always looking for new and enthusiastic members to join, and they truly have the drive and credibility to improve the community. Hearing about Eileen Hunter’s personal mission made me realize that some people’s good intentions, when put into motion, can set an example to inspire others to take action. I know they did for me.