BENSON — Thirty-four volunteers gathered at Lions Park Saturday morning to help with a citywide cleanup project.
Brighten the Path, an all-volunteer organization started by Elton Bowman and Pam Masters, turns to the community twice a year — every spring and fall — for help with a massive trash pickup project that leaves Benson looking cleaner and more inviting.
“We were so fortunate that on Saturday the weather cooperated perfectly,” Bowman said in an interview following the cleanup. “All in all it was a really great day. A lot of people went home tired, but everyone felt good about what we were able to accomplish. It’s a really neat experience to put this together and see it culminate into a successful day.”
The city of Benson provided the volunteers with water, gloves, grabbers and trash bags, as well as pizza when the work was done at 11:30.
Pickup trucks with trailers hauled trash, tree trimmings and brush to the transfer station, where the city paid the fees, Bowan said.
“We took six trailer loads to the transfer station with 1,300 pounds of trash,” he added.
During an organizational meeting at the start of Saturday’s project, volunteers were assigned a street, alley or area to clean up, based on a grid created by Bowman.
“This was our spring cleaning project and we plan to do another one in the fall,” he said. “We started doing this in 2018 for the first time, and it was such a success, we continued it through 2019,” noted Bowman, adding that COVID stopped the project in 2020.
“Now we’re back in action,”he said. “We’ve received tremendous support from the cty of Benson. In fact, the city is contracting with a company out of Tucson to take care of some of the trouble spots between our scheduled pickup times. I was glad to hear that. I think the extra help is going to keep the city looking clean and much more attractive.”
Stephanie Nelson lives in the Pato Blanco Lakes RV Resort in Benson. As someone who has assisted with a past cleanup, she was able to recruit 12 other members of the RV park on Saturday.
“I enjoy doing this because it makes the town look so much better when we’re done,” she said. “As out-of-staters, we feel this is a great way to contribute to the community.”
Benson City Councilmember Patrick Boyle was one of the volunteers who assisted with Saturday’s project.
“I’ve done a few of these with Elton and Pam in past years,” he said. “I was at the first one they organized, and at that time, the city looked just awful because of all the garbage. Elton and Pam have done a great job of improving the city, and we really appreciate what they’ve done.”
Boyle said he plans to continue helping with future Brighten the Path cleanup projects.
While volunteers were busy picking up trash, Masters was driving to designated areas to see how things were going and lend a hand when needed.
“Everyone worked very well together,” said Masters.
“I connected people with Elton when they finished their area so they could be directed to another area of town that needed to be cleaned up,” she said. “It went very smoothly, with no dead spots. Everyone stayed in communication with one another through cell phones.
“From start to finish, people kept moving until the trash was picked up and the work was done.”
Masters said there were times when residents saw the volunteers and would come out of their houses to thank them.
Some even provided their name and contact information, stating they wanted to help with future cleanup projects, she said.
“It’s rewarding to see how much people appreciate what we’re doing,” she added.
Bowman said it’s gratifying to drive around the city, including the alleyways, and see how clean it is.
“No trash anywhere,” he said. “It’s great to see this kind of support from the city of Benson and community volunteers. We appreciate every single person who came out to help.”
Saturday’s turnout, he added, was the second-best they’ve had since starting the cleanup in 2018.