Help clean up Baldwin Loop walking path Saturday

Help clean up Baldwin Loop walking path Saturday

Empowerment Factory staff and volunteers, from left, Zoe Guzman, Gretchen Gilbert, and Fransisco Rocha Salazar during a cleanup of the Baldwin Loop walking path in Pawtucket last August. Another cleanup is scheduled for this Saturday, April 24.

PAWTUCKET – Instead of waiting around for someone else to clean up a litter-ridden area in the community, Gail Ahlers is encouraging people to step up and take the initiative.

“Be the person who shows up and makes a difference in your community,” said Ahlers, founder and director of the Empowerment Factory, a nonprofit in Pawtucket. “If we each do a little something that’s how we make the world a better place.”

As a way to celebrate Earth Day, the Empowerment Factory is hosting a series of community cleanups and beautification projects along the Baldwin Loop, a 2-mile walking path in the Woodlawn neighborhood, on Saturday, April 24, from noon to 3 p.m., with a rain date of Sunday, April 25.

Created by the Empowerment Factory in 2017 with help from the Local Initiative Support Corporation, the Pawtucket Central Falls Health Equity Zone, the city of Pawtucket and the American Heart Association, the walking path goes by Baldwin Elementary School, Payne Park, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Woodlawn Community Center, and Hope Artiste Village.

“It’s especially important to preserve nature in this area where there’s so much asphalt,” Ahlers said of the neighborhood. TEF also received a grant from the Narragansett Bay Commission to buy seeds, flowers, and plants to plant along the route.

At the cleanup, volunteers will pick up trash along the route, clear the sewer drains from trash and debris, and attend to the needs of a pollinator garden at Baldwin Elementary School. TEF will also have a team making notes as to where trees can be planted and coordinating with the city of Pawtucket and Groundwork R.I. to help their efforts of planting more trees in the area, Ahlers said.

Volunteers should meet at the Empowerment Factory at Hope Artiste Village, 999 Main St., Studio #707, in Pawtucket, at 12 p.m. and will gather into small teams. All ages and abilities welcome.

Residents are encouraged to bring their own gloves and bags, but TEF will have some available. Snacks will be provided. Masks must be worn and social distancing guidelines will be followed.

To register, visit tinyurl.com/52uy8v5v .

TEF hosts walking path cleanups to continuously beautify and maintain the Baldwin Loop, Ahlers noted. There are often families with children who come out to help clean up the space. “It’s a lovely thing to see,” she said. During a cleanup of the area last August, Ahlers said staff and volunteers collected about 20 bags of trash around the 2-mile loop.

Since the path’s completion in 2017, TEF has continuously sought to beautify the path, starting with a series of art installations at Ama’s Variety Market, and in 2018, a pollinator garden was installed at Baldwin Elementary, she said. “We’ve worked on bringing artwork and gardens to the neighborhood,” she said, adding that they’ve also expanded a vegetable garden at Baldwin and have partnered with organizations such as Groundwork R.I. “It’s really about everyone working together.”

An upcoming project is to place a Wishing Tree art installation around the loop, featuring a collection of wishes of what people want to see in the world, Ahlers said.

“We want more people to know it exists,” she said of the Baldwin Loop, adding that they’re looking for ways to improve signage for the walking path. “Walking is one of the things that you can do that’s easy and affordable.”

While the full path is 2 miles long, it was designed with people of all ages and abilities in mind, so “if you want to go for a much shorter walk, you can,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahlers noted, regular and sustained walking reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Ahlers is hoping for input from community members and said she’d like to create a walking club since many people are dealing with the “COVID 20,” or extra weight gain from being cooped up inside for the past year. “It’s the perfect opportunity for people to come out and use this resource,” she said.

TEF is also looking for funders “to join this effort to create a happier, healthier community.”

If anyone can’t make the cleanup on April 24 but wants to help in some way, the Empowerment Factory offers many volunteer opportunities for people of all ages, Ahlers said. “We’d like to get more high school-aged kids involved.”

For more, visit www.empowermentfactory.org .