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Vacca Volunteers clean Pelham Parkway

Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s volunteer corps has completed yet another community project, cleaning away debris and weeds along Pelham Parkway South with over 30 community members that came out to help.

Vacca humbly gave credit for the cleanup, which took place on the parkway near Bronx House at 990 Pelham Parkway South, to members of his staff and, above all else, to the volunteers who came from all walks of life. Some were in their twenties, some seniors, and others were members of the Pelham Parkway South Neighborhood Association.

The group cleaned away garbage, glass, and cigarette butts, and weeded before sweeping up. Vacca gave special thanks to a part-time staffer Herbert Norat, who is working in the Councilman’s office during the summer as he completes his studies at City College. Norat helped organize the event. Norat started out as Vacca’s Councilman-for-a-day and then became an intern.

“We have such a diverse group of people, including young people and seniors, who are picking up glass and litter,” Vacca said. “This is the biggest cleanup that we have had yet as part the Vacca Volunteer Corps.”

The Vacca Volunteer Corps. was launched in June and is aimed at filling important gaps left by $1 billion in cuts to the city’s budget amid the fiscal turmoil that is affecting not just the city, but the entire nation. Vacca held two volunteer fairs to kick off the effort, which originally included more than 100 people and 20 different organizations. That number has since swelled as people have become familiar with the effort through posters placed at strategic locations, online listings, and from other events, like a recent graffiti cleanup in the Pelham Parkway South community.

Many of the people involved in that cleanup came back for more, Norat said. He contacted people online and through phone calls, and placed posters about the volunteer event at commercial strips on Lydig Avenue, White Plains Road, and Williamsbridge Road.

“A lot of people are demonstrating their willingness to help the community and the variety of ages of the volunteers shows different age groups are interested in volunteering,” Norat said. “Now it is just a matter of connecting these people with the right volunteer projects.”

For Pelham Parkway South Neighborhood Association president Edith Blitzer, whose organization is involved in fighting graffiti, repainting vandalized mailboxes, and working to stop illegal barbecuing in parks, the issue is one of pride. Joining in the effort were association treasurer Elaine Feder and PPSNA member Alex Nilaj.

“People have to have pride in the community and work to improve the overall quality-of-life,” Blitzer said. “If more people took pride in our community, perhaps it would be a better place to live.”

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