Kudos to young JaaEL Lewis of St. Albans, who is another in a long line of residents who care about their community and are making some strides to clean up garbage strewn Jamaica, thanks to many of our low-class ghetto slobs, a lack of stand up politicians and a big lack of enforcement of litter laws.
Not everyone and that includes our young folks in the community are ghetto slobs or gang bangers or uneducated dumb asses. In fact many actually care about the community but are so frustrated by a lack of leadership and proper services, including enforcement of quality of life issues.
I would love to see young folks like JaaEL and other young folks get involved in leadership roles including political roles, since the same old useless, do nothing and crooked old shits have done very little for the community in decades. Out with the Flakes, Comries, Spingers, Caughmans, Cooks, Wills, Meeks and all the tons of so-called church leaders whose only goal is more money in the collection plate, not the betterment of the community.
KUDOS to JaaEL Lewis, because that St. Albans, once a nice area, is turning into a ghetto garbage mess, not too mention on the crime taking place lately there.
From Queens Press:
Photos courtesy of JaaEl Lewis. JaaEl Lewis, seen standing next to a garbage receptacle, worked with a local St. Albans non-profit to better her community.
BY TRONE DOWD
Disturbed by the littering problem in her neighborhood of St. Albans, 25-year-old JaaEl Lewis has decided to takes matters into her own hands.
For years, Lewis said that her neighborhood has struggled with keeping garbage off the streets. While the immediate effects seem negligible, Lewis said that the lack of tidiness is something that she thinks reflects poorly on the neighborhood that she holds dear.
“I was running on Baisley [Boulevard], right next to Roy Wilkins Park,” Lewis told the PRESS of Southeast Queens. “I saw so much trash. Literally pillows and pillow cases. Seeing this gave me this thought: Why doesn’t the city just put some bins over here? It’s a frequently visited area, especially during the summer when there are a lot of concerts.”
Wasting no time, Lewis got to work. She called city agencies to seek a simple solution to the local problem.
Unfortunately, the bureaucracy of city government stood in the way of her goal.
“They told me that because it is not a commercial area, they won’t be able to fund it,” she recalled. “They told me that they would need to go to the councilman’s district office or pay for it out of pocket as part of the Adopt-A-Basket program.”
The Adopt-A-Basket program was started in 1996. Typically aimed more at organizations, rather than a single woman on a mission, many of the public trash cans are prohibitively expensive. Lewis explained that the large baskets seen on main roadways throughout the city can run as high as $400. She said that the cost of trying to keep the city clean surprised her.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Lewis said. “I thought it would be an initiative that the people and its leaders would be interested in. There are so many programs and initiatives that have looked into this, but there are so many legalities that keep people from putting money towards something like this. It’s a safer bet to put money towards cameras or street lights or stop signs.”
She said that the legal haze behind sanitation is the reason why elected officials find it difficult to get items such as this one on the ballot for participatory budgeting.
However, Lewis had the backing of a local community activism group, Reason and Truth Ministries, Inc. Reason and Truth is a non-for-profit based out of St. Albans that was established by her father, Rabbi John Lewis. The group aims to “intensively impact the lives of St. Albans by introducing teaching and implementing the purposes and importance of holistic sustainability.”
Rabbi Lewis told the PRESS of Southeast Queens that although Reason and Truth Ministries is a faith-based organization, its focus is not only on the spiritual aspect of its congregation, but also the good works the group produces in the neighborhood that improves the community’s living environment.
“What we are really trying to do is change the mind and approach to how the community views their surroundings,” Rabbi Lewis said. “We want to generate a sense of community in reference to how it looks and the way it is presented and kept. It reflects on us as a people.”
With the two sharing a common goal, Lewis and Reason and Truth joined forces.
“The group has supported the idea and donated,” she said. “It becomes a lot easier when you have the backing of a 501-c3.”
In addition, Reason and Truth made the rounds in the St. Albans area, informing residents of the initiative and collecting small donations to go towards the project. Within two months, Lewis and Reason and Truth were able to procure the first of the trash cans. Members of the group installed the cans themselves, drilling them into telephone poles at the corner of certain blocks. As of this writing, Lewis has been able to bring a total of four baskets to the area, with no plans of slowing down.
Although Lewis said that she is happy that her vision to clean up her neighborhood was realized, she wishes that more residents would get behind the initiative. Since the baskets have come to the residential areas, there has been very little feedback on where to place other baskets in order to improve the aesthetic of the neighborhood. She hopes that will change soon.
“We want people to join in on this and help,” Lewis said. “We hope that this will shed some light, so we can get some traction on this issue. Seeing bins around propels people to throw away their trash properly, instead of dropping it on the floor. You feel more responsible if you see a can at the end of the block.”
With more community involvement, Lewis hopes that upkeep of the cans will become more efficient.
“These things we have to change ourselves,” she said. “We have to change the bags. We want to get young men involved and implore them to help out and give them a sense of responsibility and accountability of giving back and understanding how to take care of what they have. After all, this is their neighborhood and their community.”
Lewis also said she’d like to get the City Council involved in some capacity and intends to reach out to St. Albans’ member, Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans).