By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
Nearly 250 people came out to support the city-wide clean-up in Amsterdam on Saturday.
The clean-ups in the city have been happening for the past handful of years, said Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane, but this year's turnout was by far the most successful.
"This is thanks to Bob Purtell," Thane said. "He did an amazing job organizing groups and businesses to become involved this year.
"It's given us really new life and what a tremendous turnout."
Organizations like Target Distribution and the Girl Scouts came out to support in small groups, but the largest group, sporting their own matching t-shirts, was a group of nearly 40 employees from St. Mary's Healthcare.
"We just asked for some volunteers from all the divisions and this is what happened," said Vic Giulianelli, St. Mary's Healthcare CEO and president. "We are involved in most of the initiatives that are about improving life and improving health in the counties that we serve."
St. Mary's Healthcare employee Kelly Flewlling said she was happy to see their CEO out with the employees willing to get his hands dirty for the good of the community.
"We have a great family at St. Mary's, we really do," she said.
Flewlling said it's been a long winter, so Saturday was the perfect chance to bring new life to Amsterdam.
"It's good to clean up the community and make things look nice," she said. "You always feel better when you look around and everything is nice and clean."
Also happy to be representing her place of employment during the clean-up Saturday was Lisa Liddle.
Liddle couldn't wait to tell about the email blasts she got this past week asking for volunteers to support the city clean up.
"As you know, St. Mary's Healthcare is big into volunteering in the community, with a lot of our people working from the community, but also people coming from outside the community who are always willing to help out," Liddle said.
A Canajoharie resident, Liddle said she has done clean-ups in the past for her hometown but this was the first time doing the cleanup in Amsterdam.
"It not only brings the community together, not only people who live in the community, but work in the community and contribute to the tax base, but it also does a lot to build a spirit of camaraderie in the community."
Other organizations were feeling that, too.
Art Lupe, of Target's distribution center, said the business loves getting involved in the local community.
A Hagaman resident with a drive to help Amsterdam, Lupe said it was a fantastic way to not only get the citizens involved, but the local businesses as well.
"I think it's great for everybody to support the community and help everybody out."
Throughout the day from 9 a.m. until nearly 2 p.m. teams upon teams of residents and local business employees walked around the city picking up garbage where they could find it, racking leaves, and tidying neighborhoods.
Parents walked with their children. Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops did some community service. And neighbors worked side-by-side with other neighbors doing a little bit of spring cleaning on their streets.
The pile behind city hall of filled trash bags was "tremendous," Thane said.
"We are pleased and grateful for the people that came out," she said. "It's amazing to see how cleaned up we are. It's so inspiring and wonderful. I'm so proud."
Thane said that as she traveled down streets after the clean-up ended, it was evident that work got done.
Robert von Hasseln, Director of Community and Economic Development for the city, said on Saturday that the day truly was "community development in action."
"This is people coming out to support their city, their fellow citizens. We've got a great combination here of volunteers from St. Mary's, Liberty, and just regular folks."
Von Hasseln noted, too, that it was great to see the Red Cross and Salvation Army vans in the City Hall parking lot for the Community Recovery and Resilience Day at the same time.
"I've never seen anything like this," he said. "I think it's a great thing for Amsterdam and it's a great thing to see the city coming back and being involved and other organizations reaching out to us."