22nd Annual Clean Sweep Tidies Up New Paltz

Students and residents enjoy a day of community building and bonding with the annual Clean Sweep. Volunteers started the day early, at 8:30 a.m. Photos Courtesy of Susan Stegan.

The streets of New Paltz endured some serious spring cleaning this past Saturday, thanks to all those who volunteered for the 22nd annual Clean Sweep. With giant orange bags and smiles just as big, the town worked together to progress environmental-friendly efforts.

Around 200 people volunteered their time to help clean the streets of New Paltz, proof of the devoted interest in this annual cleaning event. This continued commitment to bettering our environment is a notable trait found within the residents of New Paltz year after year. 

“If you’re not doing something to help the world, it seems like a pretty big waste of time. [This is] just another opportunity to do that,” said Jim Tinger, director of the New Paltz Youth Program. 

The idea for a Clean Sweep was initiated by several small groups, all of whom were concerned with the appearance and environment of New Paltz. What started out as a small community event has become an annual tradition involving roadside assistance to better our local environment.

Community volunteers set up in the St. Joseph’s Church basement, where breakfast was provided for volunteers to thank them for their generous participation. The event is sponsored by the Town and Village of New Paltz, the New Paltz Community Improvement Team and SUNY New Paltz.

“This is a wonderful community event,” said Sue Stegan, program coordinator.

“As New Paltz has grown and more activities [are] competing, we see more SUNY New Paltz students,” she said. I feel so proud to see this support of college students for a town in which they live in only briefly. It is a win-win for all of us!” 

Students are encouraged to volunteer for the Clean Sweep, as this simple commitment to the environment is not only a great resume-builder, but a convenient opportunity to get more involved with and benefit the New Paltz community.

While this particular event only lasts for a few hours, a significant amount of trash is gathered, and a significant number of people leave the event feeling motivated to continue on with clean environmental acts.

The Clean Sweep has the power to make people more conscious and considerate of their actions towards the surrounding environment, even after the day’s work has been completed.

The New Paltz Youth Program is a prime example of a group that has made great efforts in encouraging students to volunteer for events such as this environmently friendly one.

“The positive emotional and mental effects of volunteering for the individual doing the volunteering are the most important,” said Andrew Vlad, assistant director of the New Paltz Youth Program,

“We hope that by allowing these students the opportunity to help in a variety of roles that they will be more understanding, compassionate, and well-rounded individuals when they move on from our program into the next phase of their lives,” he said.

The continuation of simple acts, such as recycling, not littering, and being environmentally-conscious, provide great potential to seriously improve our land over time, according to the program’s mission. 

“Clean Sweep is a fantastic opportunity for SUNY New Paltz students to come together with community members to make a real and fast difference in the village and town,” said Erica Wagner, service learning coordinator.

 “The committee appreciates all of the hard work done by volunteers each year and we look forward to seeing everyone again next April,” she said.