By Nicholas Vercilla —
Luci-Jo DiMaggio and her student volunteers at Duquesne University were helping Allegheny Cleanways remove trash from a hillside on Bigelow Boulevard.
Along with removing such things as a refrigerator and a hot water tank, DiMaggio’s students also found a safe that caused them great pains to roll up the hillside far enough to reach a Cleanways winch to pull it out.
That was just an example of the determination and passion that is displayed by the “Evergreen Organization” at Duquesne.
“Everyone has a right to a clean space, to a clean environment,” said DiMaggio.
DiMaggio, who is the Director of Mission Animation, has been the faculty advisor to the Evergreen Organization at Duquesne since 2013. The organization was created by former students 20 years ago with its main goals being to clean and protect the environment in Pittsburgh as well as educating others on these topics. During the 2015-16 school year, the organization of around 35 students was led by sophomore Gretchen Scheetz, junior Marianne Freed and junior Andrea Salt.
Scheetz, who joined the group her freshman year, enjoys volunteering her time working in nature.
“I always loved being out in nature,” said Scheetz.
Every month, Scheetz leads a group of students as they go and pick up trash in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and the South Side. Scheetz says the group tends to find hypodermic needles, mattresses and tires during their cleanups.
Overall, Scheetz believes her group is one of many in the city that care about the issues of littering and illegal dumping and are looking for ways to solve the problem.
“It’s a problem that the city tries to fix,” said Scheetz. “You never know what you are going to find.”
Raqueeb Bey, who lives in the Uptown part of the Hill District, is very grateful for DiMaggio and the help of her students. The students have repeatedly gone to her area in the Hill District to pick up trash. According to Bey, when the students are done, the area looks completely different and as if there wasn’t any litter there before.
“It looks so much better,” said Bey in regards to how the area looks after a cleanup. “People should be more appreciative.”
Sophomore Mathew McCurdy joined the group this year because his ultimate goal is to be a park ranger. He got involved in the “Evergreen Organization” in order to get active on campus and to help him move forward with his dream job.
“It’s a good place to start,” said McCurdy.
Sophomore Anna Kemper joined the group because she wanted to learn more about both the city of Pittsburgh as well as how she can be green on and off campus.
Both McCurdy and Kemper find dead fish and fish bones from the nearby rivers as the weirdest items that they’ve come across.
Sophomore Trong Do believes that having a clean area will foster peace and beauty into an area.
“Environmental issues directly affect the community,” said Do.
Do has mentioned that during his cleanups, the items that have stood out to him the most are strands and collections of hair.
DiMaggio, who previously served as a member of the Clean Pittsburgh Commission, says that her group has gained support from Duquesne University and the greater Pittsburgh Area.
She believes that no matter how many times people may say that their efforts are pointless, they will always continue to serve the community in any way that they can.
“Everyone has a right to walk with no trash on the sidewalk,” said DiMaggio.