By Hilda Saavedra
City leaders kicked off a new program this month to help small business owners keep their property graffiti free.
Waste Management Inc., a waste collection company with locations around the country and Canada, donated the paint and materials for the project. Locally, they provide home and business trash collection service.
The Adopt-A-Dumpster Program was launched on Sept. 22 at Sunrise Food Store on Palo Alto Road, located in an area of San Antonio that is notorious for graffiti, city officials said. The city’s Housing and Neighborhood Services Department, volunteers from Waste Management Inc. and community volunteers helped to get the program started.
Talks of the collaboration between the city and Waste Management Inc. started about nine months ago when the city approached the company, said Albert Perez, a representative for Waste Management Inc.
The city is also looking to enlist the help of other local companies in the future, said Lisa McKenzie, neighborhood services coordinator for the City of San Antonio.
“We started off donating 20 gallons of paint, and before this project started, we decided that probably wasn’t enough, so we donated another 30 gallons,” Perez said.
The new program is also part of the city’s annual Graffiti Wipeout, an initiative that encourages the community to come out and help minimize graffiti and maintain their neighborhoods.
“What we’re trying to do here is twofold,” District 4 City Councilman Rey Saldaña said. “We’re trying to help our small businesses in providing them some of the resources to keep our neighborhoods clean.”
The program started in Saldaña’s district, but it will also benefit other areas of the city where graffiti is an ongoing problem, McKenzie said.
According to McKenzie, graffiti is mostly found in the central, south and west sides of the city.
“Graffiti kills the business. A lot of people didn’t come because of the graffiti,” Ranak Hasan, Sunrise Food store employee, said.
The group of volunteers painted over the store’s dumpster with green paint. When they were done they walked down the street to a paint over graffiti on a residential privacy fence.
“I think it will have a positive impact, because people feel real bad when things are done and it’s not their fault and now something positive is happening,” said Alicia Peña, a volunteer and Waste Management employee. “It shows you that when the community comes together, positive things can happen.”
The volunteers’ efforts were acknowledged by a resident of the South Side neighborhood who drove by the cleanup site. He paused and from his truck he shouted a thank you to the volunteers for painting over the graffiti on his neighbor’s fence.