Mom’s Making A Difference 

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Emily Kaminsky is working really hard to make – and keep – Methuen beautiful. She wasn’t satisfied to just pick up some trash on her own, so she’s taken her initiative to the next level, inspiring others to step up their environment game along the way.  “Sometimes, I think it just requires somebody’s who’s willing to, not only act individually,” Kaminsky said. “But then take the next step to pool people together and organize it. So, that’s what I’m doing.” 

The Methuen mom of three boys is always helping others, whether she’s at home or at her full-time job working for a Roxbury-based non-profit organization that lends social impact investing dollars to projects in low-income communities. 

Recently, Kaminsky completed the “Walk for Water” in which she walked 15,000 steps per day for 90 days (more than six miles a day) to raise money for a village in Kenya so they can install a clean water storage tank. Where she lived previously, Kaminsky organized a food co-op and a community garden, helped revitalize the school garden and was an English language tutor for a refugee resettlement program.  

“I’ve always been an active volunteer in a variety of different areas,” she said. “I’m usually not satisfied unless I’m involved in something.” 

While walking, Kaminsky was struck by the amount of trash she encountered on her route. She began bringing a bag with her and collecting trash as she walked, often finding – and filling – additional bags along the way.  

“That’s, in part, why I noticed how much trash there is, because I walked so much outside,” she laughed. “I wasn’t treadmill walking.” 

Kaminsky remembers the first time she really thought about the environment. 

Leo and Ben Kaminsky joined the clean-up efforts on April 28

“The twentieth anniversary of Earth Day happened when I was in high school and it was a really, really big thing.”  She didn’t immediately become active at the time because, she said, she didn’t know how to plug-in to the movement back then.  

The Kaminsky family — Emily, her husband Matthew, and their three sons, now-11-year-old Jedd, 8-year-old Leo and 4-year-old Ben — moved to Methuen from Vermont three years ago where the family always participated in the state-wide clean-up day. She began to wonder why she hadn’t heard about that type of program in Methuen.  

Emily and Matthew met in college and although she is not a Methuen native, he is and his family still lives in the area, and Kaminsky has always had a need to be active in her community, regardless of where she lived.  

“I thought, there’s got to be other people who are doing this. Maybe we could do it together and increase the impact,” she said. 

She reached out on Facebook and found that there is a community, albeit a small one, of like-minded people who are also interested in keeping Methuen beautiful.   

“Once you put something out on Facebook and actually show that you’re willing and able to organize something, it certainly attracts people who want to plug in, who’ve been thinking about something like this but didn’t feel like being the one to spearhead something,” she said.  

Kaminsky had decided if she could gain enough interest, she would keep going with her mission, so in April, Keep Methuen Beautiful, the local chapter of Keep Massachusetts Beautiful, was born. 

“They have different teams and affiliates around the state that organize the clean-ups,” Kaminsky said of the Keep Massachusetts Beautiful organization. 

The program launched locally on April 28 with “The Great Methuen Clean Up Your Own Block Party,” which coincided with clean-up days scheduled across the nation. At least 10 Methuen families participated in the event, collecting bags of trash and posting their pictures on Keep Methuen Beautiful’s new Facebook page.  

Kaminsky picked up trash along Burnham Road with her sons. She said the area between Haverhill Street and Riverside Drive is heavily thicketed and always full of trash.  

“We always get 6 or 7 bags of trash and I go there about every 3 weeks.” 

The next clean-up event is scheduled for May 26, but Kaminsky is spreading the word that  

“… the effort doesn’t have to be just about litter pick-up, which is after the fact of people littering,” she said. “We can do litter awareness campaigns in the school … preventative, behavior changing, accountability kind of stuff.”  

To generate enthusiasm for her cause, Kaminsky has begun visiting local merchants to ask for their support in her efforts. She envisions eventually launching a public awareness campaign, in partnership with local merchants and businesses that would include posters or signage that may say “(insert business name) cares about (insert name of street). Please dispose of your trash properly.” 

“There’s a little bit of silence around the trash issue. Nobody really wants to talk or do anything about it but I think if we all acknowledge it, it makes us all more accountable to the situation,” she said. 

Julie Little of The Savings Bank presenting Emily Kaminsky with a donation

The Savings Bank, Dental Health Professionals and Dr. Boes, who owns the building at 15 Burnham Rd. that houses them, has agreed to support Kaminsky’s efforts thus far, either financially or with volunteers.   

HOW TO GET INVOLVED ON MAY 26 

 Join “Keep Methuen Beautiful” to pick up one of the trashiest spots on on the West Side! We will meet at the Burnham Park fields at 8 a.m. sharp on Burnham Road off of Riverside & Haverhill (parking is available).  

This will be a a two-hour pickup party. While you don’t have to stay for the whole time, KMB is asking for at least an hour commitment starting at 8 a.m.  

At 8 a.m., KMB will distribute supplies (gloves and bags), t-shirts (hopefully), and coordinate their work. They will head out at 8:15 a.m. and focus pickup in the following areas: 

1) the walking path from Burnham Park to Riverside Drive; 

2) both sides of Burnham Road itself in between Market Basket and Riverside 

3) the stretch of Riverside between the I-93 overpass and the Methuen Package liquor store.  

Filled trash bags can be left along the route. KMB will have “bag retrievers” at the end of the event.  

Please bring comfortable but sturdy walking shoes or boots (you will likely have to get into the brush to retrieve litter) and wear bright shirts and pants.  

NOTE TO PARENTS / CAREGIVERS: If you are bringing kids, that’s great. But KMB asks that you stick to the path and Burnham Park for safety’s sake. 

MORE ABOUT KEEP AMERICA AND MASSACHUSETTS BEAUTIFUL 

Keep America Beautiful was founded in 1953 and currently includes 25 state affiliates, including Massachusetts, and 552 local affiliates across the United States. The guiding principles of the KAB are: 

  • Education: Residents, government, and business leaders need to understand the challenges they face and the potential solutions in order to encourage positive behaviors toward community improvement. 
  • Individual Responsibility: People may complain all they want about the appearance of their neighborhood or community, but change begins with personal responsibility. 
  • Public-Private Partnerships: Broad-based community alliances are essential to achieving sustainable community improvements. 
  • Volunteer Action: By engaging volunteers, communities can extend the reach of their educational efforts and multiply the impact of their actions. 

 The Keep Massachusetts Beautiful affiliate focuses on these three impact areas: 

  • Litter Prevention & Cleanup: Understand who and what is causing litter and organize volunteer and government resources to clean it up and prevent future littering behavior. 
  • Waste Reduction & Recycling: Reduce reliance on single-use plastic and promote effective recycling programs to reduce the volume of trash that ends up in landfills, incinerators, or as litter. 
  • Beautification & Community Greening: Beautify public spaces with landscaping projects, tree planting, and other infrastructure improvements to build community pride and spur local economic activity. 

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