When church members congregate to clean up the community, the results are heavenly.
That’s what happened when members of the Broadmoor Community Church (BCC) got together on April 27 to give their neighborhood a much-needed facelift. The gathering saw approximately 12 members comb Lake Avenue and neighboring back roads in an effort to collect and bag debris scattered throughout the area.
BCC member Terry Storm launched the project after he grew tired of seeing trash littering the neighborhood. Now in its 35th year, the cleanup focuses on collecting debris carpeting the roads and medians from the BCC to beneath Interstate-25.
“I lived about three blocks from the (church) and got tired of looking at trash every time I drove to work. One day I decided to do something about it,” Storm said.
That’s when Storm got the idea to spend Saturday mornings picking up debris littering the neighborhood. For a time, Storm collected the trash by himself until his efforts inspired other church members to assist in the endeavor.
About four or five members every Saturday spend 1-2 hours picking up debris near I-25, its ramps and nearby wooded areas, Storm said. Members collect the usual assortment of junk ranging from soda cans and candy wrappers to paper and plastic products.
“We collect bottles and cans that people leave behind. I personally have collected lumber and lots of plastic and styrofoam cups. We have even collected shopping carts. Occasionally I find money which, of course (ahem), goes directly into the collection plate,” Storm said as members laughed.
Storm has collected cell phones and women’s handbags and has attempted to return these items to its owner. He also occasionally happens upon dead or wounded animals. “Once, I found a wounded dog. I knew the dog’s owner and had to get him out of the movie theater so he could take the dog to the vet,” Storm said.
Despite an occasional encounter with a disgruntled homeless citizen, the entourage doesn’t experience any obstacles, Storm said. “Running into these people is always chancy because they’re afraid we’ll take their stuff,” Storm said.
Citizens applaud the entourage for their efforts, Storm said. “Drivers have offered us bottled water and asked if we’re OK. I replied, ‘Yeah, we’re just picking up trash,’” Storm said, laughing. “I know the Broadmoor Hotel appreciates our efforts to where they mowed the median nearby. As for me, I get a satisfaction from knowing I helped clean up the community.”
Trash is disposed in BCC trash bins where it awaits pickup from Waste Management Disposal. Following the cleanup, members return to the BCC for coffee, and to share experiences and discuss how they can improve their cleanup efforts.
Having observed Storm picking up trash inspired Cheyenne Mountain resident Laura Muir to get involved, she said. “I have known Terry for 25 years. I saw him picking up trash and wanted to support him,” Muir said.
As it turned out Muir stumbled upon a dead deer during her first cleanup with the group. Muir froze where she stood, attempting to comprehend this tragic loss of life, she said.
“Terry warned us about possibly finding dead animals during the cleanup. However, finding one is different than hearing about it,” Muir said. “I love animals and worried this was what I was going to see every time I helped clean up. I am glad I was wrong.”
Herman Tiemens, who has been participating about a year, said participating in these cleanups create community. “In today’s world, people don’t get time to think much and picking up trash not only brings community together, but also is very therapeutic,” Tiemens said.
“At some point we must accept it that the problem isn’t going away. We as a society are creating this trash problem and we’re here today because of it. My hope is that others also come to accept it and learn to dispose their trash properly.” Muir added, “When you pick up trash, you feel rewarded for making the community a better place. That’s when this project becomes addicting.”
The cleanup starts at 9 a.m. at Broadmoor Community Church, 315 Lake Ave., and lasts until 10 or 11 a.m. The public is welcome to participate.