JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, Washington –
It’s a cool, crisp morning at the park, as an Airman starts her day strolling the base. Her shoes aren’t ideal for her walk and last night’s rain has her feet soaked. It doesn’t bother her and will not stop her. With gloves on her hands and a big black trash bag, she begins her mission.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ashley Keeks, AF Band premier vocalist, is one of 23 volunteers that gathered at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington D.C., on Oct. 13, 2020, to pick up garbage and fallen branches.
“I have never lived on JBAB, but I do feel like it is part of my home because I work here,” Keeks said. “When I come home to a mess it drives me nuts. You should treat your workplace the same.”
Recently JBAB has seen a rise in complaints about people not throwing their trash away as well as overflowing trash cans where the garbage is not being picked up.
“Why would you throw your bag of trash in the parking lot,” Keeks asked. “You wouldn’t do that in your own driveway.”
While there were trash cans overflowing in some areas, there were other trash cans hardly used.
“If you are out and about and you have a water bottle, don’t throw it in the bushes, look for the trash cans,” Keeks said. “As I was participating in the base cleanup, there were plenty of trash cans available.”
Keeks and her fellow volunteers went to multiple locations around JBAB in an effort to improve cleanliness and make it a nicer place for base residents and workers. They cleaned trash at bus stops, parks and along the waterfront. They also picked up branches to ensure sidewalks and other high trafficked areas stay clear.
“I witnessed a family standing next to a bus stop, instead of inside it, while it was raining because it was full of trash,” said U.S. AF Senior Master Sgt. John Barboni, 11th CES Heavy Repair superintendent. “The bus stops became a cleaning priority.”
Barboni and his team prioritize locations to clean based off of wing leadership and community feedback.
“The parks were added to our list because we noticed it was a hot topic on social media and we felt adding them could help our JBAB families,” Barboni said.
After a long morning, the volunteers have finished their sites and the results of their hard work is seen.
“The base looks more presentable and top notch,” Keeks said. “It feels more homey and comfortable. People will actually want to go to these areas, parents will want to take their children to the playgrounds.”
The 11th Civil Engineer Squadron organizes a base cleanup event once a month to address community concerns when it comes to base appearance. Volunteers meet at the 11th Wing Headquarters building at 8 A.M every second Tuesday of the month, or third if there is a holiday or bad weather.
“This program would be nothing without our volunteers,” Barboni said. “We honestly appreciate all of their hard work and dedication.”