Hands On Jamestown Returns


Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

Hotchkiss Neighbors working on Hands On Jamestown.

“This is going to be a transformational summer for Jamestown,” Kristy Kathman, Deputy Director of the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC) told the Gazette last week.

“With the grand opening of the National Comedy Center this summer, the renovation of the Reg Lenna Center For The Arts, the Winter Garden Plaza beautification and more, having it look nice is a real good first step in that direction.” Kathman said. “We want Jamestown to look its best. Company is coming.”

“This year’s Hands On Jamestown, slated for Saturday, May 19, 2018, from 8 a.m. to noon, is one of the ways we’re doing that,” Zach Agett added. Agett serves as JRC’s Marketing & Events Manager, a key event organizer. I is once again a day when volunteers assist the City of Jamestown Parks Department with flower planting, litter collection, raking, sweeping, and many other outdoor clean-up activities.

JRC says, “We want to make Jamestown better through inspiration, action and celebration.” It always turns out to be more fun than work and it’s a great day to make new friends around a theme of community and neighborhood pride.

A Clean Sweep

“We’ve had 600 to 700 people, all volunteers, in the last two years, said Mary Maxwell, Neighborhood Project Manager for JRC. “The most we’ve ever seen was 800 and we probably averaged 500 to 600 over the years, even in bad weather.”

In past years, many tons winter debris, escaped trash and truckloads of over-stuffed clean-up bags have been collected by participants and then carted away by Jamestown’s Department of Public Works. The result is always a cleaner, more beautiful city ready for springtime.

To get started, volunteers can either register online (www.handsonjamestown) or simply meet downtown at the Winter Garden staging area on Main Street on Saturday morning, check in with event organizers, grab a complimentary coffee and a muffin, rubber gloves and garbage bags. This year, the coffee is sponsored by Targeted Pet Treats, LLC from Warren, PA and purchased from Jamestown’s Crown Street Roasting Company on W. 3rd Street. Volunteers are encouraged, however, to bring their own hand tools and cloth gloves the day of the event if they can, as resources may be limited, depending on the number of volunteers.

Mary Maxwell says she knows there is a benefit to Hands On Jamestown. On a short walk to the market recently she passed only 19 houses and picked up 183 cigarette butts, up from 150 the week before. Mary said she also finds the occasional car part and a penny or two. “We try to get whole neighborhoods involved through our Renaissance Block Challenge,” she said. “One neighborhood alone last year picked up entire truckloads of trash from a wooded area along one of their streets.”

Full Hands On Jamestown cleanup bags can be left on any street corner in the cleanup area. They will be picked up and carted away later by DPW trucks. Bags of leaves and brush however will not be taken.

Pick Your Spot

Jamestown Gazette readers are encouraged to simply type www.handsonjamestown into a favorite search engine or go to Hands on Jamestown on Facebook to register and to see a new, interactive map to pick a spot they like, or pick a group to join, or just show up and ask for an assignment. The map is updated daily. Families and company crews, individuals and organization can choose any clean-up area that is right for them, whether their own neighborhood, a high visibility location or a place they know needs some serious attention from someone who cares.

“Dress up your group in something distinctive, creative and fun and we’ll post it to our Facebook page,” Kathman promised. Participants are asked to wear something brightly colored, like colorful sweatshirts, jackets or a previous year’s Hands On Jamestown t-shirt in order to stand out to motorists.

A Feel Good Project

“Even in years when it was cold or rainy,” Kathman said, “people were still into it. Two years ago it rained for a good portion of the morning. We met at Tracy Plaza that year and ended up at Wintergarden Plaza with hot dogs and hamburgers and people still came even though it was rainy. It’s such a nice community event that the weather didn’t deter anybody.”

Beechview Neighborhood planted flowers
at the Jamestown City Limits town sign on N. Main.

“We’ve been doing it with our kids for eight years,” Kathman added. “My 10-year-old daughter started when she was only 2. Now, everywhere we go around Jamestown, if she sees anything – cans, cups, water bottles, paper – dropped in a parking lot, she will say, ‘This place needs Hands On Jamestown!’ My children are all much more conscientious about what they’re doing now.”

“What I hear most is how good people feel about contributing something to Jamestown and making it a better place. There is a sense of pride and teamwork to making Jamestown a better place to live.”

A Little Extra Care

Some debris picked up over the years has been dangerous, according to event organizers, though they have never recorded an injury among participants. “We ask people to be very careful,” Kathman said. “Sometimes there is broken glass, for example. Just use common sense and handle it carefully with cloth or leather gloves. Or, if there is a lot, just notify the event organizers and they’ll have it picked up.”

“If something is found that is even more hazardous, industrial waste or something illegal, just don’t touch it at all,” Kathman suggested. “Drug paraphernalia and syringes have even been found. We can give volunteers a phone number to call. A professional will come pick it up and thank them for the find.”

Going Viral

Kathman recalled that a woman who participated in Hands On Jamestown a few years ago later moved across the country to Oregon where she worked for the Parks and Recreation Department in her new hometown. She started a Hands On project there and modeled it on Jamestown’s event. People loved it.

“Register on line or just show up and sign up on Saturday morning,” Agett said. “Everybody is welcome and everybody is appreciated.” Anyone with additional questions is invited to contact Zach Agett at zach@jamestownrenaissance.org or 716-489-3496

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.