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Penn Hills’ “Litter Queen” doesn’t have political aspirations — she simply so occurs to treasure her neighborhood a lot that she is keen to scrub up after it.
Religion Milazzo is a mom and a spouse who has a full-time job in academia. She hardly ever misses a council assembly, the place she has no downside gently talking her thoughts about varied subjects. She sings for her church. She volunteers with the Penn Hills Neighborhood Growth Company.
And through her free time, she picks up trash — used McDonald’s luggage, wrappers, plastic cups and tires amongst different issues — alongside roads in the neighborhood.
Milazzo, 49, is the founding father of the Penn Hills Anti-Litter Group. Since 2017, it has organized dozens of litter pickup occasions throughout the municipality. The group has picked up about 1,000 luggage of trash and greater than 50 luggage of recyclables in that span.
The group additionally has participated up to now two Pittsburgh Rubbish Olympics, a citywide occasion the place a whole lot of volunteers compete in varied neighborhoods for many trash picked up in a single day. The group earned the Olympics’ most staff spirit award each years.
“We’re not afraid to be foolish annually,” Milazzo mentioned.
And in August of 2020, Milazzo earned a Preserve Pennsylvania Lovely Neighborhood Satisfaction Award from state Rep. Tony DeLuca, D-Penn Hills. The inaugural award acknowledges “excellent environmental stewardship by a enterprise, particular person, college, neighborhood group or civic group that makes an excellent dedication to litter management, recycling, beautification or normal environmental stewardship,” in response to a Preserve Pennsylvania Lovely information launch.
The anti-litter group additionally began an essay contest for Penn Hills college students. It prompts them to put in writing about litter and the surroundings. The group additionally partnered with the Crescent Hills Civic Affiliation for its anti-litter posters program for youthful college students.
This 12 months, the group launched its Clear Sweep Initiative, a program that encourages native companies to maintain the skin of their institutions clear and tidy by awarding certificates to these already going above and past. Griff’s Grounds Coffè turned the first recipient in January.
For Milazzo, it began when she started noticing the neighborhood’s willingness to level out its littering downside on social media and the general public sphere.
“I noticed individuals complaining about it on varied Fb pages,” she mentioned. “So I made a decision lastly to make a delegated area to do one thing about it. You realize, type of like, ‘Let’s take motion as an alternative of simply complaining about it.’ ”
The Penn Hills Anti-Litter Group now has 550 followers in its non-public Fb group. She estimated perhaps round 75 individuals from the group have gone to not less than one litter pickup occasion and wherever from 30 to 40 individuals have come to a number of. One other 20 to 30 come to at least one occasion a 12 months.
Milazzo mentioned she likes to assume the group is making a distinction. She remembers a little bit lady who watched her decide up litter close to her home some time in the past. The little lady requested her why she was doing that. Milazzo instructed her she did it as a result of she needs her neighborhood to look good.
“I requested her, ‘don’t you wish to dwell in a pleasant neighborhood?’ She mentioned, ‘I do, however I don’t wish to do it,’” Milazzo mentioned. She mentioned the lady mentioned her mother throws litter out of the automobile window as a result of different individuals are employed to choose it up.
After some time of the lady watching Milazzo decide up trash in the identical space, she got here out and met Milazzo.
“She took the trash I used to be selecting up and threw it away. So children are watching,” she mentioned.
Becky Fenoglietto volunteers steadily with the Penn Hills Anti-Litter Group. She mentioned the entire level of the group is to point out the neighborhood — and younger individuals just like the lady from Milazzo’s anecdote — that they care about the best way it appears.
“And that offers them impetus to additionally take part and even when they’re not coming to litter pickups, they see what we’re doing, they turn out to be extra in tune to environmental points that we’re attempting to place ahead. And perhaps they recycle a little bit extra, reuse one thing a little bit bit extra. We wish to proceed to be a voice in the neighborhood and perhaps change some issues,” Fenoglietto mentioned.
Fenoglietto began volunteering with the group about 4 years in the past. She had by no means met Milazzo. However now the 2 are very shut pals.
“She’s one of many funniest folks that I do know,” Fenoglietto mentioned of Milazzo. “However what actually stands proud is her dedication to this neighborhood.”
She mentioned the truth that Milazzo doesn’t have political motivations for her volunteerism is “refreshing.”
“She needs to do good as a result of it’s the correct factor,” Fenoglietto mentioned.
Milazzo mentioned she has been requested lots if she has her sights set on political workplace.
“By no means say by no means, however it’s not possible,” she mentioned. “I’ve been going to council conferences for six years, I hardly miss a gathering. I simply wish to know what’s happening. It’s vital to remain knowledgeable. I like to only volunteer.”
Sooner or later she hopes to focus extra on educating youth about litter and the surroundings. The essay contest was placed on maintain in 2020 due to the pandemic. She hopes to prepare displays and begin partnering with Penn Hills colleges for cooperative litter pickups.
Within the meantime, Milazzo hopes to kick off the litter pickup occasions beginning in late March or early April.
Folks can be part of the group by visiting the Fb web page, “Penn Hills Anti-Litter Group” or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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