Neighborhood volunteers continue park cleanup at safe distance

Multnomah County

Coronavirus measures paused park clean-up initiatives

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With so many routine facets of our lives on hold during the pandemic, one group of neighbors say taking pride in your neighborhood goes on.

The Portland Parks Department temporarily suspended its volunteer park cleanup initiative when the coronavirus restrictions swept across the county.  Although the official city cleanup initiative is still suspended, that has not stopped some of the die-hard people living down here from caring for their neighborhood treasure in Elizabeth Caruthers Park. 

The city may have temporarily suspended its organization of volunteers — but the thistles and the weeds are still growing. Marti Yoder, who moved down here from the Alameda neighborhood several years ago, knew Caruthers Park still needed attention. So, she organized her own volunteers to maintain the park. 

“It brings back actually my small town Iowa background where we were raised to believe that you take care of your neighborhood and your community,” Yoder said.

This group of 20 or so people has taken park maintenance into their own hands — dividing the park up into sections, having each person work a different section so they stay separated. They wear masks and gloves and do what needs to be done.

This is their treasure — and Yoder said they just stand idly by and watch it get overgrown with weeds, underbrush and litter. 

“This is my neighborhood and this is my community,” she said. “And I just feel like this is exactly what I was raised to do and I love it.”

Yoder will be the first to tell you this isn’t about her — it’s about everyone down here on a cloudy morning.

It’s an oasis in the shadow of the Oregon Health and Science University Cancer Treatment Center – – a gem in the middle of one of Portland’s newer neighborhoods. Yoder and many of her civic-minded friends want to keep it that way, even as everything else has come to a standstill.

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