AB&I Foundry, an Oakland, California-based company that manufactures cast iron pipe and fittings for the plumbing industry, spearheaded a massive neighborhood community clean up in East Oakland on Thursday, October 18 and Saturday, October 20, 2018.
AB&I has been in Oakland since 1906 and has seen the city grow and change. With that change has come enormous blight with illegal dumping on neighborhood streets. The company teamed up with local leaders, organizations and residents to tackle this huge problem and addressed hotspots within the boundaries of 73rd Street/Hawley and San Leandro Street to 85th Avenue and International Boulevard, as well as G Street between 85th and 92nd Avenues.
The team of 250 volunteers filled more than 800 bags with debris between Thursday and Saturday including more than 40 mattresses and an array of tires from the streets.
“This event was more successful than we envisioned. It’s impressive that AB&I along with a passionate group of concerned citizens, inspirational Oakland leaders, and dedicated community organizations, all came together with the common goal of improving our neighborhood. I am so proud to have been part of this community partnership,” said Michael Lowe, general manager of AB&I Foundry. “We’ve been part of the fabric of this community for more than 110 years. We saw what was happening with illegal dumping and the blight and decided to take on the challenge. AB&I has a long history of community involvement from supporting charitable causes, the city’s Adopt a Spot, to providing turkey meals during the holidays to people of the community.”
Mary Forte from Block by Block Organizing Network (District 7) said, “I was born and raised in Oakland. This is home and I love to clean. This is my castle and I want it clean. That’s why I do what I do.”
“When we began planning this event, we reached out to Mayor Libby Schaff and Assembly Member Rob Bonta who were very supportive of our ambitious goals,” said Zeydi Gutierrez, public affairs strategic director at AB&I Foundry.
Gutierrez led the planning team that included Pat Mossburg from Councilman Larry Reid’s office, Kamika Dunlap from Supervisor Nate Miley’s office, Julia Lang from Downtown Streets Team, Rodney Clara from Mattress Recycling Council, Peter Dunlap from Oakland Public Works, Jennifer Stern from Oakland Public Works, Bishop Bob Jackson from Acts Full Gospel Church of Oakland and an AB&I Community Advisory Panel, Gloria Crowell from Allen-Temple Church of Oakland, Rosa Ibarra, Oakland resident and member of the AB&I Community Advisory Panel, Civicorps, Alameda County Community Foodbank, and Waste Management of Alameda County.
“I was so impressed with the commitment and enthusiasm of everyone on the planning committee and the volunteers. It was obvious on the day of the clean-up how important this event was to everyone and how proud they were to play a part in making Oakland the best it can be,” said Gutierrez. “Special thanks to Mary Forte with Block by Block Organizing Network and the Men of Valor without whom none of this would have been possible.”
During the clean-up many residents came out of their homes to thank the volunteers who were cleaning up their neighborhood. Also, passing cars were honking and giving a thumbs-up to the volunteers in appreciation for their efforts. The group of volunteers included team members from AB&I, neighbors in the community and other organizations who all wanted to make a difference. The Men of Valor from Acts Full Gospel Church sent 33 volunteers who were instrumental in cleaning up along Hegenberger Road, one of the worst dumping sites in the city.