WARREN - A couple fed up with the sight of tires and trash on Risher Road while they are picking up children for various academic and sports activities are putting on gloves, gathering trash bags and organizing a cleanup of the area.
Kiisha Warfield-Sanders and William Sanders are organizing the "Kathy Allen Community Clean Up Project" from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 10, as the first major project of their nonprofit organization, Team Sanders Inc.
It will concentrate on the area around the intersection of Palmyra Road S.W. and Risher Road S.W.
Workers will begin at the YWCA, 375 North Park Ave., then move to the cleanup area at about 9:30 a.m.
Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite superhero costume. Prizes will be awarded for best costumes.
"Children should not have to see this," Kiisha Warfield-Sanders said.
"They should not have to live in these conditions."
The couple started Team Sanders Inc. in March as a project to help young students in their academics and to provide athletic opportunities.
When they moved to Trumbull County from Colorado Springs, Colo., two years ago with their young family, the couple wanted to become involved in the community.
"We wanted to do something with children," Warfield-Sanders, 31, said. "It was natural to combine our love for sports and interests in academics. We want to expose young people to as many things as possible."
Sanders, 34, is an intervention specialist at Jefferson K-8 school in Warren. Warfield-Sanders played sports in high school and in college.
Both are graduates of Youngstown State University, where he played football and she played softball.
The couple said they already have 15 children participating in the group.
They have been taking them to various sporting events, outdoor activities and study groups at area churches.
The couple decided to do this cleanup several weeks ago after noticing the unusual amount of debris and trash on the side of the roads while they were picking up and dropping off the young people involved with Team Sanders Inc.
They initially reached out to Councilwoman Cheryl Saffold, D-6th ward, who has expressed concern about people dumping tires and other debris, not only on Risher Road, but also in the back yards of vacant houses around her ward and in other areas of the city.
"I am in the process of starting a trash alert for the 6th ward," Saffold said. "I will be surveying vacant homes that have trash dumped in the back yards."
Louise McGhee, of 439 Second St., said over the last several month she has been forced to look at increasingly large piles of sofas, chairs, kids' toys and other trash being dumped into the rear yard of an abandoned house.
"They come and dump in the middle of the night, so I don't see them," she said. "They've started taking the siding off of the house and have taken several of its windows."
McGhee has lived in the neighborhood for more than 52 years. The house has been empty for about eight years.
"It was a nice home," she laments. "The woman who owned it died and her children moved away. It should have been torn down years ago."
McGhee said the property also is attracting wild animals and rats to the area.
She has grandchildren and great-grandchildren periodically visit her home, so she is concerned about their safety anytime they come over.
"I try to pick up and keep up my property, but I can't do that property," she said. "I'm an old lady now. I need some help."
Saffold said situations like McGhee is experiencing are not unusual.
"When people drive past these homes they don't see the amount of trash, because it is hidden behind the homes," she said.
The councilwoman said if the city is notified of these hidden trashed areas, then it can be more proactive and attack the problems head on.
"This is a quality of life matter and the health and welfare of city residents are at issue here and need to be addressed," she said.
Warfield-Sanders said the Warren YWCA, the Geauga-Trumbull Solid Waste Management District and an organization called Sisterhood, Honor & Evolve.
Anyone wanting to assist in the cleanup can contact Team Sanders Inc. at 330-647-1544 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.