Communities take care of their own, which is exactly why The City of Gary partnered with Gary businesses in an AmeriCANS in Action community clean-up on Friday, September 16. This is the third installment of this clean-up initiative following the first installment in September 2021 and the second installment in May 2022.
Over these three installations, Deputy Mayor Trent A. McCain is grateful to have seen the volunteer base grow. Indiana American Water, Fulcrum BioEnergy, Great Lakes Industrial Center, and other businesses and community groups joined city employees at Gary Indiana City Hall to start the clean-up. Volunteers were greeted with doughnuts, coffee, and a welcome from McCain and Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services Rachelle Ceaser. The volunteers then split off into groups to cover more ground and get to work cleaning up the community.
“We don't have enough personnel to take care of 54 square miles all by ourselves, so we really need the buy-in of the community and everybody pitching in to make the city a cleaner city,” McCain said. “Every time we come out here, the crowd gets a little bit larger. It's always exciting to see people looking forward to chipping in for their community.”
Ceaser shared the city established plan with four pillars to guide the AmeriCANS in Action initiative: clean up, stop the dumping, change the mindset and shift the culture, and hold everyone accountable internally and externally to create a cycle of continuous improvement.
“It's important to note that a lot of these people are already doing this work. They're doing it in neighborhoods around the city, but to bring everybody together for a collective effort that made it a lot easier to be able to engage everybody who does business here and who lives here. It broadens our message,” Ceaser said. “We demand a certain quality of life here. I think the most salient point is we’re going to have to be the change. Everybody can do something.”
Every September, Indiana American Water searches for an impactful way to serve the community. The water company has a close relationship with the City of Gary, and they asked Justin Mount, Operations Manager, to partner with them for this project. Mount agreed, as he thought Indiana American Water's AIA plan would be a great partnership opportunity.
Indiana American Water staff members from multiple departments–including production facilities, meter services, and construction–worked together to clean up areas along Van Buren Street, close to their office.
“I always look forward to the end result. When you have these sites where you can’t see your sidewalks, it’s very overwhelming. When we have the chance to come and clear that up and make it better to help the city out, we like to do that,” Mount said. “We have a large footprint in Northwest Indiana, specifically Gary, and we try to help out as much as we can.”
After a morning spent cleaning up Gary’s streets, all business, community group, and city volunteers met back at city hall. Volunteers were able to rest after a hard day’s work, enjoy lunch together, and take pride in what they were able to contribute to their community.
“There is a Native American Chief called Chief Seattle, and he said a 'sick bird fouls his own nest.' We are reversing that here because we are cleaning up our nest. We're cleaning up our home,” McCain said. “When we see people throwing litter on the street, we report them because we don't tolerate this. Gary is not a dump. This is a lovely place to live. This is a lovely place to raise a family, and we're going to clean up our home and keep it clean.”
For more information about Indiana American Water and its volunteer work in Gary, visit https://www.amwater.com/Inaw/.