Who Keeps Those Trails Clean, Anyhow?Dale Campbell: Co-EditorBent Fork Editor: Tim, I think you mentioned the group of volunteers was from the Springs Rescue Mission. Were all the volunteers on Saturday employees at the SRM? Or, a mix of employees and other folks helping the group?
: We had a mix of people involved in the cleanup. About four of us were employees of SRM from the Advancement team. The rest were SRM volunteers that volunteered specifically for this event. Most of those were first time volunteers.
Editor: How often does the group get together to clean up the trail?
: We partner with volunteers from the Urban Singletrack Project about once a month to perform the cleanup. This happens on the first Saturday of the month and starts about 9 am. We meet at Urban Steam, grab a coffee, don our gloves and head on out.
Editor: What section of the trail is the group responsible for maintaining?
: We work on cleaning the part of the trail from the trail head near Urban Steam, all the way south to Tejon and behind the Mission.
Editor: How long does it generally take to complete the cleanup work each time the group gets together?
: If it’s the first cleanup of the season, it takes about three hours. We usually halt the cleanups in the winter months. Depending on the amount of volunteers, monthly maintenance takes about 2 hours. We average about 12 volunteers.
Editor: Do you coordinate your work with the Parks Dept (or whoever is responsible for the trail)?
: Colorado Springs Utilities is responsible for that part of the trail. We generally don’t have to contact them. We do work with the American Medical Response teams to pick up needles and with the CSPD’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) whenever possible.
Editor: Is there anything unusual or humorous that has occurred during one of the cleanup sessions?
: Oh yes! Well it was both humorous and sad. This year, the first cleanup was very cold. I had old holy jeans, rumpled flannel shirt, Ski cap, nasty gloves and was pushing a shopping cart of trash. I looked at myself, laughed and thought “I look like the homeless one.” This was funny until all the cyclists and runners looked at me the same way. Many of them passed me and looked at me with disdain, never uttering a word. This is sad on many levels. Sometimes it is a simple hello that inspires someone to look up instead of down. When someone begins to look up, the Mission can begin building a relationship that leads to transformation. It saddens me because of that and because as a cyclist and a runner myself, I know we can do better.
Editor: How did the Springs Rescue Mission initially become involved with the periodic cleanup efforts? Is this another aspect of the "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" approach of the Springs Rescue Mission?
: This is the easiest question to answer. Jon Severson, from the Urban Singletrack Project proposed the partnership to me one wintry day last year. I didn’t flinch. I said yes that instant without asking anyone at SRM. I figured if I am going to be the Director of Community Relations, I should be making decisions that show the community that SRM is committed to everyone and that we are serious about being good neighbors.
Editor: Is there anything else you'd like to contribute that would add?
: It would be great to have more volunteers every month. We would especially like to see more cyclists and runners at the cleanups. We, after all, are the main users of the trails and I think that we should all play a part in ensuring that it’s clean and serviceable. And, you never know who you will meet and whose life you may help turn around.
Editor: Tim, thanks for your time and comments. And, thanks for what you, your cleanup crew and the Springs Rescue Mission does for our community.