Hundreds volunteer to show 'P.R.I.D.E.' in Ypsilanti
Lisa Carolin | For AnnArbor.com
Downtown Ypsilanti, the Ypsilanti fire and police departments, S.O.S Community Services, as well as parks like Prospect Park, Ford Lake Park Peninsular Park and North Bay Park, were among the volunteer work sites.
"There's a shared community spirit with people trying to pitch in," said Ed Golembiewski, a P.R.I.D.E. site captan in Depot Town where 40 people turned out to spruce up planters, sweep and clean.
"It's important to help make the community look nice," said Lisa Atkins, a member of the Ypsilanti Jaycees, whose goal is to build leadership and community service.
Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber says P.R.I.D.E. — which stands for People Restoring Image and Developing the Environment — is a show of support for local businesses and neighborhoods.
"Ypsilanti is becoming a destination college town," said Schreiber. "Historic architecture, a burgeoning arts community, fully occupied downtown loft apartments, and Eastern Michigan University all create a sense of place in Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti P.R.I.D.E. is part of that sense of place."
Eastern Michigan University students and staff were among the volunteers Saturday. Megan Anthony, one of the EMU coordinators, said students were working at three sites-the Water Tower, Frog Island, and Depot Town.
"I want to be part of a more connected campus/city community," she said.
The P.R.I.D.E. program was begun in 1995 by the graduating class of Leadership Ypsilanti with funds raised from local businesses. Since then, the P.R.I.D.E. Committee has worked with downtown and Depot Town associations, local churches and youth groups, as well as Ypsilanti Township.
"Many of the areas that were blighted when P.R.I.D.E. Day first started are now gone," said Diane Keller, executive director of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber. "P.R.I.D.E. Day shows true regional cooperation and ownership in their community. It clears the debris that has accumulated over the long Michigan winter and shines a spotlight on the region as it becomes the source of pride you feel when you have made a community aesthetically pleasing and welcoming."
For many residents, participating in the event is just their way of showing they value the Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township community.
"I live here and love Ypsilanti," said volunteer Janna Daimler. "This helps our neighbors realize we care about this community and makes us feel we are in a valued community with residents who care."
Volunteers gathered for a picnic at Recreation Park from noon to 2 p.m. following the cleanup.