Chace Lake Park is a large, secluded park near the Chace Lake community, integral to the Alabama ecosystem because of its close proximity to the Cahaba River. Unfortunately, litter in the area is carried into the Cahaba River from the lake. After learning about this problem, founders Shehzan Maredia and Pippa Lother started the CleanHoover Initiative to combat Chace Lake Park littering by organizing community-based clean-up days and by talking to local business leaders who were unaware of the issue.
They launched a campaign to raise awareness about their mission and how Hoover citizens could pitch in through designing posts for social media outreach on Facebook and Twitter, reaching out to news outlets like the Hoover Sun and al.com, and setting up booths at ecological events like the Cahaba River Society’s annual Fry Down.
By contacting citizens from the entire Hoover area, including students from all Hoover city schools and Jefferson State Community College, the initiative has cleared almost 12,000 gallons of garbage including sports equipment, clothes, takeout cups, beer bottles, cans, leftover industrial equipment, and even an abandoned office desk chair found in the woods.
CleanHoover has expanded to other parks in our community as well, like Moss Rock, and this past January CleanHoover hosted the first tree planting event. Fifty-five trees were planted in Chace Lake Park to create a natural barrier between human generated trash and the Cahaba River.
Through Shehzan’s, Pippa’s, and all dedicated CleanHoover volunters’s efforts, CleanHoover gained sponsorship as a nonprofit from the city of Hoover, and CleanHoover is represented on the Hoover Parks and Recreation Foundation Board to help out with the community’s future environmental strategies. The Hoover Service Club also recognized Pippa and Shehzan with the Flora May Pike Award in the first year of starting CleanHoover.
While the small initial group of volunteers has truly transformed into a community-wide effort, there are so many more things to do to further ecological improvement in Hoover, and Shehzan and Pippa have trained upcoming Hoover High School seniors Addie Knight and Sid Suresh to continue the initiative along with younger ambassadors from Hoover High School and Spain Park High School.