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5857: Community gives Little Haiti street a clean sweep (fwd)
Published Sunday, November 19, 2000, in the Miami Herald
Community gives Little Haiti street a clean sweep
Residents paint, pick up trash
`I think all this will help people see that it's bad to litter.'
JAMES BLANFORT, 13, Little Haiti resident by MIREIDY FERNANDEZ
Trash and litter are destroying Little Haiti. That was the message
residents hoped to spread last weekend during a five-hour
trash pickup effort through Northeast Second Avenue from 54th to 79th
streets -- Little Haiti's main thoroughfare. ``We need to clean up the
streets,'' said Leomene Jean, a resident. ``People place stuff over
walls and have trash all over the place. You may be driving a nice
car but it doesn't mean anything when you have all the trash around.''
Jean and her children participated at the Nov. 11 event that brought
about 75 residents together to paint over graffiti, pick up litter and
paint new trash receptacles placed throughout the community.
``When my family comes to visit me from New York, it's embarrassing
because they see all the trash in my neighborhood,'' said Jean, 46, and
a single mother of three. ``The message is simple: Put trash in its
place.'' Sam Diller, director of Community Outreach for the Little Haiti
Housing Project, said apathy is a growing problem in the community.
``If you walk through the community, there is litter everywhere,''
Diller said. ``There's not one explanation in the community as to why
there is so much trash but residents here don't have the same level of
environmental education as other communities have. When you have many
families working two jobs, to them, it's not a priority to throw out the
trash.'' Many of the children painted 55-gallon oil barrels that were
used as trash containers and pasted anti-littering messages on them,
such as ``Do not litter in our neighborhood.' ``I think all this will
help people see that it's bad to litter,'' said James Blanfort, 13,
a student at Madison Middle. ``Anything can happen when it comes to
trash. A pet can run into trash and die because of something toxic or
people can get hurt if they step into something by accident.''
Naomi Morency, 9, used various colors to paint the containers and
helped other children from the community bag trash along the streets.
``People shouldn't do this to our neighborhood because it makes it look
ugly, said Naomi, who attends Little River Elementary. Jean's daughter,
Valerie, 9, helped her mother with trash bags and painted
barrels. ``I'll do whatever I can to keep the streets clean and people
should be told not to litter,'' said Valerie, a student at St. Mary's
Catholic Church. Said Diller: ``Having a soda can and dumping it on the
road reflects badly on the community and the residents understand that
this is a way to send a positive message.'' The event was sponsored by
Hands on Miami, a volunteer-based community organization; Little Haiti
Housing Project, which provides affordable housing to the
Haitian community in Miami-Dade; and Operation Green Leaves, dedicated
to the global environmental awareness of Haitians.