As a bold step towards early emergence from the COVID-19 Pandemic, Missississauga community service organization Heart Comonos (www.heartcomonos.ca) organized a very successful ‘Cooksville and Friends Cleanup’ in partnership with the City of Mississauga and its generous supply of waste bags and protective gloves.
The Saturday, August 28th morning event involved the clean up of popular Cooksville Park and other publicly accessible areas near King and Hurontario Streets, all undertaken by about 60 volunteers ranging in age from 13 to participants in their 60s, under the direction of Heart Comonos staff, who made sure that outdoor COVID safety protocols were in place.
Nicole Bonder, Project Coordinator at Heart Comonos, a resident of Cooksville herself, developed this ‘in person’ volunteering event after becoming concerned that her surrounding neighbourhoods didn’t have garbage bins anywhere and that the outdoor spaces were getting quite messy. These concerns were also shared in Heart Comonos neighbourhood Zoom meetings, regularly scheduled ‘virtual’ sessions where local residents share their experiences, thoughts, hopes and dreams, talents, and skills, with the prospect of using any or all for the improvement of their neighbourhoods in Cooksville.
As Nicole describes her neighbours and contributing volunteers, “Residents are the front line of a connected and supportive Neighbourhood. Everyone is seen and heard and together we make change happen.”
The decision to move forward with the project was made after consultation with board director Christine Bennett and executive director Hardy Steinke, following a supportive conversation with City of Mississauga Ward 7 Councillor Dipika Damerla.
On behalf of Heart Comonos, Volunteer MBC used its Referral system and pool of volunteers as a source of willing participants that included families and friends who were treated to complimentary pizza after the clean up had concluded. Not surprisingly, this ‘in person’ community volunteering event, after prolonged social isolation, proved extremely popular! A delighted Nicole Bonder summed up its success by saying, “There was a huge curiosity and eagerness for an outdoor event.”
Nicole hopes, as does Volunteer MBC, that the ‘Cooksville and Friends Cleanup’ will genuinely inspire other community service organizations and agencies to return shortly to safe ‘in person’ events and Heart Comonos is looking forward to hosting another for involvement by eager local volunteers, and this valuable Cooksville outreach is always open for suggestions.
For more info about Heart Comonos, click here.