It Takes A Village: Maywood Residents Come Together To Cleanup Illinois Prairie Path

Prairie Path Volunteers
Prairie Path cleanup volunteers pose in front of Ceasefire Building in Maywood.

Saturday, April 26, 2014 || By Michael Romain 

MAYWOOD — The Illinois Prairie Path corporation held its annual trail cleanup today in commemoration of Earth Day 2014, which was this past Tuesday, April 22nd. The Path actually begins in the back of the CTA Blue Line in Forest Park, runs through Maywood and ends some 60 miles later in Elgin.

According to the organization’s website, “A former right-of-way for the old Chicago Aurora & Elgin electric railroad, it was the first U.S. rail-to-trail conversion in the nation in the 1960’s.”

Lennel Grace
Lennel Grace.

Lennel Grace, a Maywood resident and member of the IPP corporation, facilitated the portion of the trail cleanup that spanned Maywood. He was accompanied by a few dozen volunteers, including Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Maywood Trustee Michael Rogers, Maywood Chief of Police Valdimir Talley, Deputy Chief Elijah Willis, Commander Sonja Horn, Maywood’s assistant village manager David Myers, Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NOMCO) President John Yi and Maywood Historic Preservation Commissioner Tom Kus, among other residents from Maywood and surrounding communities.

“I think this year is the first year we’ve really been able to expand collaboration and have had a presence from the police department, the mayor and the village manager,” Grace said. “When Commander Horn called me and said she was willing to help, I was blown away.”

For Commander Horn, a Maywood resident herself, the project was personal–so much so that she corralled several rookie officers to help out in the effort.

“I saw the ad about the event and I had my rookies come with me,” Horn said. “Since they want to work in the community, they have to clean it up, too. Police work is about more than catching criminals. This is also what it’s about.”

When Chief Talley was hired late last year, he made a decision to make Maywood home. Now that he’s here, he said, he’s committed to doing what it takes to make it better.

“I already told the community I plan to move here and because I plan to move here I’m going to be committed to the community and a participant in its progress,” he said.

Other participants included Don Emery and his troop of Boy Scouts.

Maywood police officers
Deputy Chief Elijah Willis (second on the left) and Commander Sonja Horn (first on the right) pose with other Maywood police officers.

“We’re always trying to do stuff in the community,” Emery said. The Maywood-based troop, which was the only one to march in the Bud Billiken Day Parade last year, lent an air of playfulness to the volunteerism.

Dwayne Jordan, a Maywood native who lives in Mundelein, offered a stroke of innovation. Jordan, who said he tries to return to Maywood as often as he can, noted that the cleanup could benefit from a little competition.

“When I was in camp, they would have an incentive program when we were doing this kind of thing. The person who had the heaviest bag, you know the most trash, got a prize. That would probably bring a lot more people out,” he said.

For some, however, just helping out is rewarding enough.

“I just love community service work,” Jordan said.

As he said this, another participant, Kenneth Jones, a Proviso East alum and member of the school’s 1992 state championship basketball team, was on the phone after having stuffed his trash bag. He was making arrangements to help on another volunteer project. With this mission complete, the next one lay just over the horizon. VFP

(Top left to right: A young boy picks up trash on the trail; one of Don Emery’s Boy Scout troops after a morning of cleaning up; Dwayne Jordan walks with a group of youthful volunteers; Asst. Village Manager David Myers, Lennel Grace, Chief Talley, Trustee Rogers and other Maywood police officers pose on the trail; Chief Talley moves a tree branch; Dwayne Jordan talks with Forest Park resident Paul Cuesta; Maywood animal control worker Deloren Johnson, Liquor Commissioner Gordon Hanson, Chief Talley, Commissioner Tum Kus and Officer Pirsia Allen are all smiles in front of the Ceasefire Building; Kenneth Jones poses on the trail with a full bag of trash).

Young boy picks up trashBoy ScoutDwayne Jordan and volunteersMaywood police officers volunteerChief Talley moves a branchDwayne Johnson and Paul CuestaDoloren Johnson, Gordon Hanson, Chief Talley, Tom Kus, Officer AllenKenneth Jones with bag

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.