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Saturday event planned to build unity

A group of Suffolk citizens plans to pick up trash and build relationships in a downtown community this Saturday.

The event is the second of a series of “Breaking Down Barriers through UNITY” events, according to Bob Stephens, president of the Community Action Coalition of Suffolk VA. The first event was the Unity Parade held on Aug. 2 just prior to National Night Out.

“The cleanup is a means of getting people together,” Stephens said. “It’s about getting people to interact with each other in a manner that they wouldn’t otherwise do. I want to create an opportunity for people to really come together.”

The event will last from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ida Easter Park, 724 Brook Ave., in the Saratoga neighborhood. Volunteers will help with the clean-up and then gather for socializing and refreshments.

The event is coordinated by Suffolk Clergy United, Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk and the Saratoga Civic League in addition to the Community Action Coalition of Suffolk VA.

Stephens said the event is about building relationships and trust among different segments of the community.

“We’re going to pick up some trash here and there, but it’s really about getting people to connect with each other and creating a space for them to connect with each other,” Stephens said.

He’s also hoping the event will help develop new, youthful leadership that will step up and take over.

“If we can get them to do it together, they can make a big difference,” Stephens said.

Domenick Epps agreed.

“Long-term, our goal would be to see the Saratoga Civic League strengthened and have more young people involved,” Epps said.

He said the event will also serve as a Saratoga reunion.

“Our objective is to reunite Saratogans from near and far,” he said. “We want those who have ever stayed in the community to come back, reunite and enjoy one big fellowship.”

Skip Irby of Suffolk Clergy United echoed the goal of bringing people together.

“We are encouraging and supporting activities that bring together folks in different communities,” he said. “Doing a service and fellowship project seemed like a good way to do that. We’re building trust and better relationships among people.”

Majdah Schiavi of Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk said the organization is participating to form relationships in order to be able to help people better.

“CAPS is passionate about ministry and meeting the needs of the community,” she said. “To effectively do that, we need to be in the community and build relationships. We are excited about that opportunity and to help our neighbors get to know us.”

Volunteers from all over the community are welcome and can sign up for only two or three hours. Those interested in volunteering should call Schiavi at 416-2982.