Two Episcopal churches from Camden County had members convene at Berlin Park Saturday, April 27 to help conduct cleanup efforts for the good of the community, local environment and wildlife.
Church of the Good Shepherd, located in Berlin, and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church worked together as part of a continuing initiative that many within both churches are hopeful can lead to a potential merge in the future. Small events like this are helping to build increased familiarity and a tighter bond between the two.
“It was suggested that we do things together so that we come to know both congregations for a possible collaboration or merging,” said Gail Cecchini, treasurer for Church of the Good Shepherd.
However, not everyone who attended the cleanup efforts were a part of one of the churches – some were simply interested residents who wanted to assist in cleanup efforts around their local community.
Michael Hogan, habitat assessment and volunteer coordinator, helped run the cleanup, providing supplies, tools and materials to help clean up Berlin Park. Hogan is with the South Jersey Land and Water Trust, which helps clean up municipal parks or open space areas throughout the county.
Last year, Hogan says the group hosted 21 cleanups with participation from over 600 South Jersey residents. Berlin Park is typically an area that the group will host a cleanup at around once or twice a year, according to Hogan, however he also says that in recent months increased community activism has seen residents cleaning up the parks in their spare time and on their own without established events.
“It’s a well-used park and it’s typically pretty clean,” Hogan said. “Councilman (Rick) Miller had mentioned that he’s seen residents out here cleaning every now and then and that’s a really good sign. I’ve seen with a few of our parks that residents get involved and then they feel that have the need to do it and it breaks that wall down.”
Miller says he’s been involved in approximately five cleanups with Berlin Park since becoming a councilman, and helped set up the cleanup after residents reached out about trash buildup around certain areas of the park.
Although some residents have taken it upon themselves in recent weeks to pick up trash and help the parks on their own, it would ideally be the hope that all residents who use the parks cleanup after themselves or assist in maintaining the parks at some point during the year.
“One of the challenges is to get people out and volunteering,” Miller said. “I know the school is getting really involved with Sustainable New Jersey and volunteer work … so it’s always nice to see some of the younger ones get involved as well.”