by Anna Kolosky, Community News Service
On a cold, cloudy Saturday May 1, a group of women spread out across Hardwick’s Main Street picking up trash and exchanging banter. All members of Teen Challenge Vermont, an addiction treatment center in Johnson, they were more than excited to be outside helping the community.
Clad in a colorful scarf, southern Vermont native Kelly Young was bursting with enthusiasm for Green Up Day.
“I just love my state,” Young said. “I lived down in Tennessee for 24 years, and when I went down in ‘98 I noticed two things: billboards and trash. So, anytime there’s an opportunity to keep our streets clean I’m all for it.”
After a year of living in a pandemic, Young noted that there was a big difference in trash and the attitude towards Green Up Day.
“Masks, I found several masks on the street,” Young said. “Hopefully people aren’t afraid to get out, plus fresh air is good.”
While the team had collected a good deal of trash, Chelsie Bixby, Young’s friend and fellow Teen Challenge member, commented on the difference in trash across states.
“Even neighboring states have a lot more trash,” Bixby said. “If you’re in Manchester, New Hampshire, it would take us an hour to do a block. So, it seems a lot cleaner around here.”
Young also observed how Vermont’s cold weather may play a part in the amount of litter that exists.
“If Vermont had better weather there would be more people that live here. So, of course when you go down south there’s more trash because it is more populated,” Young said. “But, there is trash, not like down south, but it’s still there.”
Jessica Sheridan, another friend and fellow Teen Challenge member, noted how long it had been since she had been able to help her community.
“I haven’t picked up trash since I was a little girl,” Sheridan said. “This is our first chance to get out and do something.”
For Young, Green Up Day is more than just cleaning up the town, it’s about giving back and being part of the community.
“In recovery, an important thing for me is to give back to the community. I don’t want to just take,” Young said. “We get so many donations, and we are so blessed. And so now is the time to start giving back, because it all comes full circle.”
After a day of giving back, Young and her friends were looking forward to one final thing at the end of the day.
“A hot cup of coffee,” Young chuckled as her friends hummed in agreement. “Definitely looking forward to that.”
Teen Challenge is a Christian faith-based drug and alcohol recovery program with three centers in Vermont – a men’s home in Johnson, the women’s home (below), and a transitional home in Rutland. Teen Challenge program graduates have a high rate of success in maintaining sobriety. For more information, go to the Teen Challenge Vermont website or call 635-7807.