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“We can still rise:” Saginaw to undertake first city-wide cleanup effort

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 10:52 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) (5/14/2021)--A grassroots effort to get involved and have a hand in the story of their community…

Saginaw’s mayor may have organized the citywide cleanup scheduled to play out Saturday, but even she couldn’t predict the idea would take off like it has.

From illegal roadside dumps, to the bottes our cameras found heaved into the gutters, In every shape, size and color, it’s difficult to drive a mile within Saginaw’s city limits without spotting signs of neglect. Local Leslie Gregory isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

“Be the change that you want to see,” he quipped via Zoom Friday.

He’ll be out in the streets Saturday, joining up with around a dozen others in his west side neighborhood as part of ‘Team-Up to Clean-Up,’ Saginaw’s first annual city-wide cleanup, at least in recent memory. It’s Gregory’s way of showing his love for the adopted city he’s called home since 1995.

“Saginaw’s almost like that community where you have everything—the culture, the amenities… and yet it’s an affordable city,” he said.

“I really want Saginaw to be a place where people are proud and not ashamed,” Mayor Brenda Moore related Friday.

The first-of-its-kind effort, championed by the newly-elected mayor, who took the time to chat despite the frantic, last minute prep work that remained.

“Right after the snow got up, I just drove the city and I said, we need to clean up,” she explained. “We need to make it better.”

A change in tone from the message days earlier, when – amid a significant spike in gun violence -- the mayor’s office urged locals to put their weapons down. Now, urging them to pick up the rakes and garbage bags instead. The overture, built to curb the crime wave and refocus the energy of a community on edge into a positive force for change.

“We can still rise,” Moore said. “They say this too shall pass. I’m praying that it passes… but this will be a start of showing unity… We talk about unity—unity is not just talking, it’s action.”

Moore told ABC12 she just wanted to leave the city better off for her kids and grandkids. She said she was encouraged by the response she had received from every corner of her home town – from Girl Scouts and union workers, to activists and city leaders.

“I want everybody to see the goodness in Saginaw,” Moore related. “Saginaw really is a good place.”

“If it takes some help from all of us as a neighborhood to show that we do all care, that sounds good,” Gregory said.

A change Gregory, too, hoped would build momentum and give the City of Saginaw a chance to turn the page.

The event was scheduled to get underway at 8:00 Saturday morning and run until noon. It’s more than 100 registered volunteers will meet at City Hall. They’ll then be divided into five groups, each covering a different portion of the city.

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