For nearly 30 years, the Duquesne University community has been making a significant difference in local neighborhoods in need through its annual Spring Clean-Up initiative.
In the Greater Hill District. On the South Side. Students. Staff. Faculty. Being a good neighbor.
Kathryn Lecci, campus minister, Spiritan Campus Ministry at Duquesne, said the focus of the event, held April 8 this year, is about, in general, litter removal and green space planting in the nearby areas. Duquesne provides much of the labor force, with people from the community joining them. A few dozen Duquesne students receive training each year to serve as section leaders, Lecci added, and Duquesne's Facilities Management department, student organizations, academic and administrative departments, as well as the City of Pittsburgh, provide additional resources for the day.
"It is great when I see a community member and one of our students working together," Lecci said. "I can't emphasize the importance of education enough, but sometimes that education is outside the classroom, when you push a student outside of his or her comfort zone. It is about how you respond to certain situations."
Lecci said the type of work done at the event has grown and morphed since the late 1990s, due to the response from the communities.
"The amount of greening projects and diversity of work in the community has grown," Lecci said. "There has been a considerable effort to develop relationships with the community. We have to be a good neighbor and work directly and positively with those in the community organizations."
Participants at the Spring Clean-Up clear trash, remove debris, and even clean up a community garden on Forbes Avenue.
Junior education major Gretchen Scheetz said, "Spring Clean-Up offers students a way to get involved in the community while also doing something good for our city. Connecting with and meeting community members outside of our University can help students to get to know the city around us and our place in it. I love seeing students opinions open up when they enter an area they've never seen before and for a preconceived notion to change."
Approximately 300 Duquesne students, faculty and staff and 100 community members participated in this year's event.