NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A group of about 20 residents gathered at Joyce Kilmer Park on Saturday to complete the first of several litter cleanups organized by the Esperanza Neighborhood Project.

The group, which included a number of children, filled up bags with trash and recycling, as well as swept up leaves and other debris from streets and sidewalks in and around Livingston Avenue.

“The idea is to make New Brunswick more clean,” said Flor Cruz, one of the block captains for the clean-up.

Preparation for the clean-ups began in July, when Esperanza members and other residents stepped up to become block captains who would be in charge of managing clean-up projects within their neighborhoods.

Gloria Auroza said at these meetings the block captains received useful information on how to keep their neighborhoods clean.

“We also got a few tips about when we gather in groups to do cleanups, to wear bright colors,” Auroza said through a translator.

“Kids are sometimes the best trash picker-uppers, they have a lot of energy, but they have to be safe.”

Esperanza members also have met with Donna Caputo, the city’s Recycling Coordinator to determine where trash cans needed to be placed in their neighborhood. As a result, new trash receptacles were installed in front of Mi Tierra Bar, and at the corner of French and Hale Street outside of Cinco de Mayo Restaurant.

“A small step, but a positive step and something that wouldn’t have happened without our work together,” Cruz said through a translator at the general meeting of the Esperanza Neighborhood Project last Thursday at the Salvation Army building.

“It’s important that we do our part. Donna Caputo… has taken us very seriously. We’re going to continue working with her and showing that we believe its also our responsibility.”

At the end of the meeting there was a chance for residents to sign up for the next cleanup, which will be held on Saturday, September 6 at 10 am at the corner of Lee Avenue and Seaman Street.

Anyone interested in joining the cleanup should call Charles Bergman at 732-484-8511.

According to a news release from the city, since the beginning of 2014, more than seven tons of litter have been removed from City streets due to the efforts of Clean City Block Captains and other volunteers.

The Esperanza Neighborhood Project is an initiative founded by New Brunswick Tomorrow and the Puerto Rican Action Board (PRAB), which focuses on the neighborhoods in parts of 4th & 5th wards between Somerset Street and Livingston Avenue.

According to research conducted by PRAB and New Brunswick Tomorrow, compared to the rest of the city, fewer Esperanza residents said that there neighborhood was “excellent” or “good.”

Half said the neighborhood was “fair” or “poor.”

The Esperanza Project holds monthly neighborhood crime watch meetings, the next of which is scheduled Thursday, September 25 at the Salvation Army building, 287 Handy Street.

Sports Reporter at New Brunswick Today | 732-208-5651 |

Experienced journalist and educator who loves writing about local issues and social justice. Also a big fan of Rutgers sports.

Experienced journalist and educator who loves writing about local issues and social justice. Also a big fan of Rutgers sports.