Monday, July 27, 2009

Queens City Council Candidate 25th District - Stanley Kalathara leads Month-long Cleanup of Roosevelt Ave.

Month-long cleanup of Roosevelt Ave. launched
by AnnMarie Costella, Chronicle Contributor

Volunteers armed with brooms start cleaning up Roosevelt Avenue as part of a month-long initiative. (photo by AnnMarie Costella)

The dense population and increasing pedestrian traffic along Roosevelt Avenue is causing trash cans to overflow and rubbish to collect in the streets, but all that is about to change.

Volunteers dressed in green t-shirts and armed with pastel-colored brooms and dustpans set out to clean up the soiled strip from 69th street to Junction Boulevard on Sunday as part of a month-long initiative to improve the quality of life in part of Queens.

Calling themselves United in Action, the partnership of business owners and residents from Council District 25, which includes the neighborhoods of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Lefrak City and Rego Park, has made it their mission to curb the increase in litter. The group will also install new garbage cans along Roosevelt Avenue and adjacent areas.

“We are making a statement,” said Millie Carrella, a spokesperson for United in Action. “We want our community back. We want it to be the best it can be.”

The idea for the project came from Luperio Naranjo, a Queens resident and native of Ecuador, who said he was tired of watching his neighborhood deteriorate.

“I want a better future for my kids,” he said. “I want them to grow up in a nice city and a clean city.”

Naranjo reached out to District 25 City Council candidate Stanley Kalathara, and together they convinced 140 local businesses to sponsor the program.

“We wanted to change the mindset of the younger people,” said Kalathara. “We want to train them not to destroy the neighborhood. This is the neighborhood where they choose to live and grow up, and they have to be responsible for making sure that it is good.”

Mario Villamil, an employee with Wells Fargo Bank, one of the sponsors of the program, said he was inspired to volunteer after he noticed the vast differences between his own neighborhood and countries overseas.

“I went to Canada and it was so clean. It just made you want to be there,” he explained. “If we are able to keep this neighborhood clean, we are going to bring more people into the area to invest, and we are all going to grow as a group.”

Ingrid Mosquera, along with several of her fellow members from the dance troupe, Estampas Negras, volunteered their time because they are concerned about global warming and other issues affecting the environment.

“I think people are too lazy to put the trash in the garbage can, so they just throw it on the floor,” added Maureen Dominguez. “This project opens the door to let people see that there are people who care and want to help the environment.”


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