Hundreds volunteer for final Clean Sweep at College Hill neighborhood

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – To bring hope and spirit to at-risk neighborhoods, The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis partnered with the Regional Business Council and the city of St. Louis for Operation Clean Sweep.

It is considered one of the largest clean-up efforts in the city.

Hundreds of volunteers were in the College Hill neighborhood Saturday morning, dedicating their time to remove vacant structures and overgrown vegetation.

“I am ready to cry because I’ve never seen so many volunteers a day in my life in north St. Louis in this ward, ready to tear it down so we can build it back up. So thank you much for being here,” said John Collins-Muhammed, Alderman of the 21st Ward.

And it’s a massive collaborative effort.

“The Regional Business Council – through its construction companies that include Fred Weber, Keely, McCarthy, and others, have committed over $5 million in man-hours and in equipment over the past several years to make clean sweep what it is,” said James Clark, VP of Public Safety at Urban League.

Ten vacant and dilapidated buildings were taken down.

For volunteer Donnell Craig, it’s more than helping clean and revitalize a neighborhood. He’s helping beautify his new home.

“For one reason I purchased a home over here, and now I’m going to become a resident. So I no longer have to travel from Illinois to Missouri,” Craig said.

“I found this area, and I’m so pleased that the alderman and the congresswoman and everyone has decided to come and clean this area that I will now be a homeowner and part of.”

Clean Sweep is a neighborhood stabilization effort, that targets what organizers call at-risk neighborhoods with strong redevelopment potential and community engagement.

“It’s about building you know, a better region because we need a quality of life, you know, that’s meaningful,” said Austin Walker, VP for Initiatives and Operations, Regional Business Council.

In addition, BJC Health was there to offer free flu vaccines.

So far this year, volunteers have demolished more than 15 derelict and abandoned properties, clean and removed debris from over 10 miles of alleys and streets, and cleared more than 20 vacant lots.

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