Pam Cooper is recruiting others to help her “pass the love.”
Cooper, who has been a Chesterfield County employee for 20 years, recently became a community coordinator within the one-year-old Department of Community Enhancement.
The woman who created and managed the county’s anti-littering program in 2004 is still in charge of it, but she is now branching out to other areas. Specifically, she is looking for skilled professionals or retirees to help senior citizens and disabled veterans.
She has some 400 volunteers – 150 who are constantly active – who help in various capacities, such as performing residential repairs, removing trash and debris and removing inoperative vehicles.
She believes that improving the appearance of a property also improves safety.
She and her rural neighbors picked up trash in ditches nearby their land weekly for a month as a pilot program, and then stopped. She observed that not as much trash is tossed out of vehicle windows when a property is kept clean. “If you keep it clean, someone will think twice about tossing,” she said.
Although she doesn’t understand why people litter, she largely enjoys her job because she loves Chesterfield County. “I want my community to be beautiful for my children and grandchildren,” she said, referring to her two sons and four grandchildren.
“I’m like an environmental educator,” she said, noting that she does puppet and magic shows for children on occasion. “Conquer the ugly wave of trash” is the theme of her presentations.
“When I do community outreach, I get to meet wonderful families and hear their stories,” she said.
“My favorite is when I get to work with children in a fun way, and they take that knowledge and share it with their family,” she said. One parent told her, “You’ve turned my kid into a recycling nerd.” The family then adopted the boy’s behavior, Cooper said.
She manages the “Adopt a Spot” program wherein volunteers pick up trash along a road, park, school or church. She also promotes a business partnership program that uses donated paint and building supplies to fix up residential properties.
The trash pickup program is funded by a grant from the state Department of Environmental Quality, but volunteers are always appreciated.
She and her volunteers have become a family, she said, noting that two rows of volunteers came to her husband David Cooper’s funeral in May 2013.
To volunteer or for more information, call (804) 748-1500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.