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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Activities & Organizations

Volunteers ‘keep Houston beautiful’ with annual clean-up day

One of the Metropolitan Volunteer Program’s Rock the Block locations was Agape Development, a Christian ministry that develops community leaders. | Dana C. Jones/The Cougar

“Just pull the tires out and leave them on the side of the road,” instructed volunteer and former Agape Development employee Ann Vicar.

The streets surrounding Agape Development, a Christian ministry that helps develop community leaders in the Third Ward, were lined with tires and other large-scale debris that had been pulled out from roadside ditches, waiting to be picked up.

This activity is part of the Metropolitan Volunteer Program’s seventh annual Rock the Block event, a day of service aimed at cleaning and beautifying neglected parts of Houston’s historic Third Ward neighborhood. MVP partnered with local nonprofit Agape Development, the South East Transformation Alliance, or SETA, and GO Neighborhoods to come together for the clean-up event, which was in conjunction with Keep Houston Beautiful Day.

“This event is important to the UH community and beyond because I feel like we all claim that UH is supporting our community in regards to the Third Ward, but we’re really not,” MVP Director Lisa Menda said. “It’s very important to dedicate days where we can give back to the community. It’s our duty, it’s our backyard, it’s our community.”

Students spent the day at several different locations throughout the Third Ward, including Zollie Scales Park and George T. Nelson Park, cleaning up the effects of illegal trash dumping that negatively impact more than just the curb appeal of the neighborhood.

“We’re hoping that people will become aware of the necessity to keep your community clean,” said SETA club president and fifty-year Third Ward resident Pauline Brown. “It’s health, beautification, as well as safety reasons.”

After a morning spent cleaning up the community, the 130 volunteers stripped off their work gloves in favor of food and fun at the block party held at Agape Development, 6401 Calhoun Road. The closing celebration, which was open to all volunteers and residents of the surrounding neighborhood, featured a large inflatable slide for neighborhood kids, interactive games, a basketball hoop and an array of refreshments.

Undeterred by unseasonably cold and drizzly weather, participants stood outside eating snow cones and jovially interacting with members of the community.

“It’s always nice to give back to the community, the campus and around the campus,” said True Furrh, an environmental sciences and civil engineering sophomore, about the event. “You have to give back to the area directly surrounding campus to be able to really engage in your community. It’s a direct way of giving back.”

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