Ann McCormick and her husband, Waterville City Councilor Tom McCormick, right, and state Rep. Bruce White, D-Waterville, help clean up trash Saturday along Water Street in Waterville as part of an effort by the South End Neighborhood Association. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Julia Ruhl dragged a black trash bag along Water Street, plucking plastic containers, cups, paper and other debris from the riverbank, where wet leaves and bushes flanked the roadside.

As psychology major at Colby College, Ruhl, 20, of Barrington, Rhode Island, said she loves volunteering in community efforts.

“It’s one of the reasons I came to Colby,” she said. “I’ve been volunteering since eighth grade. It’s something I really enjoy. I just like getting involved and helping out.”

Ruhl and about 20 other Colby students made up the majority of volunteers who turned out Saturday morning for a neighborhood cleanup organized by the South End Neighborhood Association. Matt Skehan, the city’s parks and recreation director and public works director, provided the dumpsters that were placed in the parking lot at the boat landing off Water Street. Volunteers gathered there just before 8:30 a.m. and went out in groups to various parts of the South End to collect and dispose of everything from furniture to used diapers.

The neighborhood association’s Quality of Life Committee hosted the cleanup, according to Anna Holdener, association chair.

“We started doing this twice a year but we’ve been doing an annual cleanup probably about 15 years, Holdener said. “Colby’s always been involved in the spring cleanup and they got involved in the fall cleanup. It’s a huge help. We focus on cleaning up the public areas of the neighborhood along the streets, along the sidewalks, parks, along the cemetery. We clean up behind the cemetery, the boat landing, we go down the stairs along the riverbank.”


Holdener said one year volunteers picked up an entire pantry of preserved food from the 1980s.

“Dumping is a real problem down here,” she said. “We usually have a collection of shopping carts we try to get back to the stores, tires, entire living room sets.”

Paula Raymond of the South End Neighborhood Association gives instructions Saturday to volunteers from Waterville and Colby College who planned to go out and clean up debris on streets and sidewalks along the Kennebec River and in parks and other public areas of the South End. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Association members Paula Raymond, Scott McAdoo and Charlie Pullen were among about 35 volunteers who turned out for the effort.

Bob Hussey from the city’s North End has volunteered for the last several years.

City Councilor Tom McCormick, who represents Ward 7 in the South End, his wife, Ann, and state Rep. Bruce White, D-Waterville, led a group of four Colby students along the riverbank, starting across Water Street from Scott’s Pizza and moving south.

Ruhl and Gemma Chatham, 19, a Colby sophomore from Wellesley, Massachusetts, Olga Lisabet, 18, a freshman from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Lucia Lobon, 19, a sophomore from Brookline, Massachusetts, worked alongside them. McCormick told them the history of the South End, where the French Canadians came down from Canada to work in the city’s mills during the turn of the century.


Ruhl, the student coordinator for Colby’s civic engagement program, said students regularly go into the community as part of “Service Saturdays” to help out. Three weeks ago, they took part in a walkathon to benefit the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter. One of Ruhl’s volunteer efforts is mentoring a 7-year-old in Winslow.

Lobon, an economics and global studies major, said she feels volunteering is an obligation, but not in a negative way. She volunteered at a food pantry in her hometown.

“If I’m part of a community, I might as well help,” she said. “Civic engagement has always been an aspect of my life, so I just didn’t want to stop in college.”

Chatham said she was picking up a lot of cans, Dunkin’ Donuts bags and other food-related trash.

“Some of it looks really old, too,” she said.

Lisabet was packing aluminum foil, plastic cups and scratch tickets into her bag. It was her first volunteer effort at Colby, she said.

As McCormick chatted with the students, he said it is important to take pride in a neighborhood. White agreed.

“This also sets a great example for the community — work together, get things done,” he said. “This brings us together, right?”

Colby College students, from left, Gemma Chatham, Olga Lisabet, Lucia Lobon and Julia Ruhl help clean up trash Saturday along Water Street in Waterville as part of an effort organized by the South End Neighborhood Association. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

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