Credo Cafe brews up local service project
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:10
Children raced along the sidewalk of Westmoreland Avenue and the John H. Jackson Community Center on Wednesday afternoon. With trash bags in hand, they took turns grabbing litter off the ground.
They all hoped to win the prize for the heaviest bag: a white T-shirt that heralds them as “The Golden Grabber.”
Ben Hoyer and Adam Barcott stood by, ready to help hold open trash bags or just to listen to the children.
Hoyer, founder and director of Downtown Credo Cafe, and Barcott, board member as well as overseer for the service side of Credo, hold a trash pickup project every month in Orlando’s Parramore district.
Hoyer said that everything that Credo does is based on the organization’s vision to engage people in the community.
“The goal for Credo, the mission, is to improve quality of lives by cultivating networks of meaningful and impactful community. So it’s built on this idea that our quality of life is more tied to who we’re becoming and less to what we have,” he said.
This vision carries over into the cleanup projects.
The majority of the people who collect the trash are elementary and middle school students.
“I like the idea that they start to think of themselves as the ones who do things because it’s the right thing to do, to pick up trash, because who else is going to do it?” Hoyer said.
Downtown Credo partners with four local charities, and two of its partners are Green-Up Orlando and Keeping Orlando Beautiful.
Those at Credo were given the task of engaging and uniting people from the neighboring communities. Cleaning up the area around the John H. Jackson Center serves as one of these avenues.
Juliann Gavin, a freshman biomedical sciences student, likes that Credo is growing in the community and hopes that the children will gain from it.
“They learn the importance of their environment and respect for not only their environment, but also the people that they live with in their community,” Gavin said.
Michelle Jeanty, a sophomore digital media student, said it’s important to give back to the community.
“That pays off. It looks good on résumés and you actually do something that’s worthwhile,” Jeanty said.
Rawan Almousa, a sophomore biology student, also hopes that the children will gain a genuine interest for their community.
“Honestly, I just hope for people to care. You go through a neighborhood that you don’t really like; you just hope to get out of it as soon as you can. That’s not good,” Almousa said.
The trash pickup service project began on a Saturday morning two years ago, but because elementary and middle school students are released early from school on Wednesdays, Hoyer switched the day to allow more children to participate.
The afternoon allows Hoyer and Barcott to help clean up as well as to get to know the participants.
“There are a lot of different levels to it. As far as the kids go, when it was smaller we used to take a lot longer, and so I got to talk to some of the kids more just hearing some of their stories. You know, they’re kind of asking questions, ‘Why are we doing this?’ So that’s really great,” Barcott said.
On occasion, Hoyer brings his own two children, who are ages 3 and 5, to help pick up the trash. Hoyer said this time is beneficial because even they have begun to look for other ways to help.
“I was walking downtown with my son and he saw some trash on the side of the road and he said, ‘Dad, we need to do a cleanup here. They’ve got trash here,’” Hoyer said.
Hoyer loves the fact that he and Barcott can empower the children to know it’s about who they are becoming and not what they have.
Taeyah Hoalinder, 8, really enjoyed picking up trash.
“We won,” Hoalinder exclaimed.
Joheta Barber, 10, said that even though it’s hard, he likes the trash pickup because it helps the community.
“And we love cleaning up our earth,” said 8-year-old Jaada Harper.
Hoyer said that they could focus on the number of kids who come or the amount of trash they pick up, but he believes it’s the experience that is greater.
“I think one of the best outcomes of the cleanup so far is that I feel like I’m working with people that in some ways are very different from me, for the sake of the city. I think it’s hard to put a dollar value on that,” Hoyer said.