I hate seeing all the trash in the bushes along Rock Creek where it winds past my apartment every morning, so when I heard the Golden Mile Alliance was holding a cleanup Saturday, I was all in.

Meeting in the parking lot behind the old Frederick Towne Mall at 9 a.m., I joined about 30 or 40 other volunteers and traded in my notepad and pen for a pair of purple gloves and a bright yellow trash bag. By the third water bottle I found filled with a suspiciously yellow liquid, I was really missing my old equipment, but I’d also gained a ton of respect for those gloves.

For most of the time, I hung out with Ray Baker, who lives on the other side of the city, but heard about the event through his work with Comcast. While Ray has made trips out of the area to take part in similar volunteer events for Comcast Cares Day, which also fell on Saturday, he decided to stick closer to home this year.

“I wanted to be a part of the community and help the community here,” Ray told me as we pushed a Home Depot shopping cart we’d found abandoned in the woods back to the event tent, filling it with bags of trash along the way.

By the time we rolled up to the tent we were greeted with cheers and David Newman, president of the Golden Mile Alliance, took our picture next to the haul. I felt guilty and admitted that we hadn’t picked up all of the trash ourselves, but it was nice to be a part of the effort.

Despite the labor, I had fun trudging up and down the banks with Ray, talking classic rock and handing each other fistfuls of garbage as we worked our way through thorn bushes and tip-toed along fallen tree limbs to reach plastic bags stuck out in midstream.

I honestly felt like a kid again listening to Ray reminisce about getting scolded for playing in a creek near his home growing up. And I really felt like a kid again when I almost fell into the creek after a centipede crawled out of a discarded bag of Cheetos onto my hand.

Occasionally we’d bump into other volunteers, including a group of young men from a local church and plenty of folks wearing blue Comcast T-shirts, but even more than people, there was trash.

“I bet even when we’re done here you could have a whole other group go back through and still find plenty to pick up,” Ray told me as we made our way back to where the other volunteers were gathering under the tent.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t wrong, but as daunting as it was to focus in on the amount of harm we’ve caused to this beautiful strip of nature in our city, it felt great to be a part of something positive in my neighborhood and I strongly recommend volunteering the next time you see an opportunity to help out in your neck of the woods.

The stroke’s the word

Stroke Awareness Month became the latest cause to be recognized by Mayor Michael O’Connor and the Board of Aldermen at Wednesday’s workshop meeting in City Hall.

In reading the proclamation, mixed in with the usual wherefores and herebys, O’Connor read aloud several important warning signs to help ordinary residents recognize the onset of a stroke, which is a leading cause of death and serious long-term disability, according to the Frederick Regional Health Care System.

Among the signs are:

  • Sudden weakness in the face, arms or legs, especially down one side of the body.
  • Sudden numbness or trouble walking.
  • Sudden vision changes and/or the onset of dizziness.
  • A severe and sudden headache or confusion.
  • A loss in the ability to speak or slurred speech, as well as the sudden inability to understand others.

Medical experts warn anyone experiencing those symptoms or observing them in another to immediately call 911, as quickly addressing such a serious medical event is of primary importance, according to the proclamation.

As someone who has lost a loved one to complications resulting from a stroke, I would absolutely endorse the advice mentioned on the city’s press release recognizing May as Stroke Awareness Month: “It’s okay to overreact and call 911 if you notice any of the signs of stroke.”

Those wishing to learn more were directed to visit www.Overreact2Stroke.com.

Follow Jeremy Arias on Twitter: @Jarias_Prime

Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

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