Groups like the Alief Community Association and the Alief Super Neighborhood Council went into action. Local groups began organizing volunteer projects to clean up their local parks. Alief residents planted 200 trees in Hackberry Park back in January. In February, residents gathered together to clean up the Alief Community park. The Alief Park project pulled in over 75 teenage volunteers along with some of their parents.
The projects took on a new life when residents started flooding the Houston Parks and Recreation Department with phone calls. The department responded by organizing volunteers to clean up all 350 of the city’s parks. They have dubbed the project “$aving the Green” Volunteer projects are now being organized on a monthly basis to clean up area parks. The city of Houston is promoting the program as a way to “improve parks, build neighborhood pride and camaraderie, and help the City reduce its park maintenance costs.”
The response from local residents has been very positive. It’s the response from local teenagers that has been truly amazing. The large number of teenage volunteers seen at the Alief Park cleanup has been repeated every month at other locations. In March, Volunteers, most of them teenagers from the MD Anderson YMCA, cleaned up Moody Park in north Houston. Teenagers are also doing volunteer work at the Houston Zoo under the zoo’s “Zoo Crew Teen Volunteer Program.” Meanwhile back in Alief, the Super Neighborhood Council is rotating cleanup of their four parks on a monthly basis.
Volunteerism is not dead. What is inspiring is that teenagers are picking up on it. This is the next generation of citizens and they are already showing what we can expect.