By Nick Zacharias
PHOTO BY ANDREA SMITH
Happy cousins (left to right) Ben Smith-Aumais, age 11; Will Bonnemayers, 6; and Sam Smith-Aumais who turns 8 on April 24 took a moment to proudly show off their finds after an hour of cleaning up the tracks in Hudson last weekend in an event organized by resident Rob Delorme.
A litter cleanup initiative started by Hudson resident Rob Delorme has blossomed into a movement across Hudson and beyond, drawing hundreds of volunteers who are giving time and getting their hands dirty in order to clean up their community.
A simple idea that grew
It all started when Delorme and his wife Susie Bolam heard a complaint from someone who’d counted 23 discarded bags of dog leavings around the local trails at the Whitlock golf course. “I thought, they’re nice enough to let us use their land for the trails, at least people could leave them clean,” said Delorme.
So they went to clean them up.
From the number of bags they found, it was clear to them that someone had already done some picking up. “In the end it only took about an hour to make a difference,” said Delorme, which got him thinking about wrappers and cans and all the other litter collecting in Hudson’s roadsides and parks, and what could be done about it.
What he did was create a group called ‘Hudson Earth Week April 17-25, 2021’ on Facebook and invited people to join him in cleaning up the town. “The idea is that everyone who signs up for the group agrees to give one hour for cleaning up some part of town, and then they send in a picture of their haul when they’re done.” From humble beginnings, the group has reached over 200 members. “Imagine,” said Delorme, “if every member does their one hour, and I know already that some of them are doing quite a bit more, that’s hundreds of hours of cleanup work to be done around town – that can really make a difference.”
So eager were some people to get started, they began putting in their hours and sending pictures well ahead of the official start.
PHOTO BY NICK ZACHARIAS
Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP Peter Schiefke, his wife Paula Ruttle and their kids are flanked by Hudson District 2 Councillor Austin Rikley-Krindle (left) and clean-up organizer Rob Delorme with his wife Susie Bolam (right) at the ‘Hudson Earth Week April 17-25’ event that saw over 200 members volunteer at least one hour of their time (often more) to pick up trash in their community and document the results on the group’s Facebook page.
Prizes to be won
As word of the cleanup spread, local businesses jumped on board and started offering incentives to make the event even more interesting. “We didn’t even ask at the beginning,” said Delorme. “Local stores and restaurants just started offering up gift certificates to give away for the cause. It’s amazing.” Delorme decided to ask around other businesses and has had a great response. “We’re now up to 30 donors from Hudson,” he says. At the end of the week (Sunday April 25) all those who sent in pictures of their cleanup efforts will be entered in a draw for a prize, including everything from gift certificates at Que de Bonnes Choses, Le Cozy Café, Sauvés and other restaurants, to a pre-loaded gift card from Paul Laflamme and Royal LePage, a free massage at Satori Studio, and even a free tree from Penney Gardens.
“It is so encouraging to see how strongly local businesses are supporting Earth Day and the environment,” said Member of Parliament Peter Schiefke, who stopped by with his family on the first day of the event to clean up garbage at Benson Park and along the train tracks.
Keeping it going
Mayor Jamie Nicholls and most of Hudson’s town council also pitched in over the past few days, as have whole classes of students from St. Thomas Elementary and Westwood High School. Soulanges MNA Marilyne Picard put in time at Jack Layton Park, and a similar movement is now afoot in Saint-Lazare. So far participants have turned up everything from car tires to rusty mattresses to cans and bottles of every description, and are sharing their exploits with a smile.
“The response has just blown me away,” said Delorme. “We’re going to have one more big push through the weekend, so anyone who’s interested in helping out is more than welcome.” Prizes will be drawn following the last day – Sunday April 25 – but they’re hoping the momentum will continue well beyond that. Says Delorme, “This has been such a positive experience, and we’re hoping it’ll remind people to think twice before just throwing something out, and to continue to pick things up as they go along in order to keep the town looking as beautiful as it should.”
See more photos on our Facebook page.