Water treatment plan Volunteers clean up litter along Plaster Creek:[1 Edition]
Morgan Jarema / The Grand Rapids PressThe Grand Rapids PressGrand Rapids, Mich.: Aug 17, 2001.  pg. A.11
Full Text (444   words)

Copyright Grand Rapids Press Aug 17, 2001

With more than a week of summer vacation left, doing something educational Thursday probably was not 6-year-old Martin Brubaker's first choice.

But the Lowell youngster did not appear to mind, considering this lesson was disguised as soggy, creekside fun.

Martin, along with a group of about 100 other members of the YMCA Youth Service Corps, braved the rain Thursday morning to team up with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council for a trash cleanup along the banks of Plaster Creek in Southeast Grand Rapids.

The youngsters donned plastic garbage bags-turned-raincoats and plastic gloves to clean up two trailways along the creek banks and nearby Plaster Creek Family Park. They concentrated on an area where the creek runs beneath South Division Avenue, south of Alger Street.

"It has been a problem for years because there's no fence at the top of the hill and there's a car wash up there," said Patricia Pennell, WMEAC's Adopt-A-Stream program coordinator. "Trash makes its way over the bank, which is really steep. When we have a cleanup in this area, kids have to carry this garbage an awful long way."

But first, the group got a lesson in why trash and waterways don't mix.

"Water from this creek eventually flows into the Grand River," Pennell explained. "And guess where our drinking water comes from?"

A chorus of "Ewwww" meant the kids understood.

Their haul included cigarette and fast food wrappers, plastic and paper grocery bags, a box fan, the back seat of a car and a home water heater.

Pennell said nearly 40 groups have signed onto Adopt-A-Stream since WMEAC began the program in 1991, including Brookside and Palmer elementaries, a handful of local Boy Scouts troops and various neighborhood groups.

Each group adopts an average of one mile, and is asked to gather a minimum of ten adults and children who are willing to participate in at least two cleanups a year.

No financial commitment is required, but groups are asked to find a corporate sponsor to donate $300 a year toward supplies and other expenses.

With nearly 320 miles of stream in Kent County, there is plenty more to be adopted.

The cleanup fit perfectly with the YMCA Youth Service Corps -- formerly the Grand Rapids Youth Service Corps -- a year-round program funded by grants and donations for Kent County kids in grades kindergarten through 12.

The program is designed to give kids lessons in community service, and this year has included collecting canned goods for God's Kitchen, becoming pen-pals with area senior citizens and participating in various school and neighborhood beautification efforts.

Students from Calvin College and the University of Michigan serve as program coordinators.

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People:   Brubaker, Martin,  Pennell, Patricia
Section:   City & Region
Text Word Count   444