The City of Buffalo is marking a record-setting year for its Clean Sweep program, which officials say has become a model not just for the region but for the nation.
Members of the city's Division of Citizen Services Save Our Streets Task Force joined volunteers who also took part in Thursday's sweep in the Masten District. They picked up debris, they cleaned up graffiti, they replaced street signs.
They also set a new record. This was the 32nd such sweep in a Buffalo neighborhood in 2017, the most-ever in a calendar year since the program was introduced by the Masiello administration in 2006.
"More than 100 different participants at every single Clean Sweep, representing more than 25 different agencies," said Mayor Byron Brown.
"We use 911 calls, we use 311 calls and other data to determine the neighborhoods we're going to go into on the Clean Sweeps," Brown said. "We try to go into some of the most challenged neighborhoods in the City of Buffalo and we have been in every single councilmatic district."
This was the fifth sweep conducted in the Masten District. Ulysses Wingo, who represents the district in the Buffalo Common Council, spoke of the program's purpose and essence.
"I believe it was Maya Angelou who said 'people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did but they'll never forget how you made them feel,'" Wingo said. "I believe these Clean Sweeps ensure that the residents of the City of Buffalo understand that we in leadership understand the plight of the communities here."
Five sweeps were also conducted in the Ellicott District. Four were held in the North, Niagara, Fillmore and University Districts, two in South and one in the Delaware District.
It's a program that Oswaldo Mestre, the director of Buffalo's Division of Citizen Services, says has become a model many other communities look to.
"We get phone calls from various cities and towns, not only here in Western New York but across the country," he said.
In addition to providing cleanups in neighborhoods, participants go door-to-door providing quality-of-life services including homeless outreach, fire prevention information and equipment when necessary, health insurance enrollment assistance and health care information.
Tracey was with the University at Buffalo Smiles Team and was distributing information on dental health, including options for obtaining care.
"Your dental health affects your overall medical health," Tracey said. "So we hand out resources, letting people know where they can go. Maybe some place affordable, depending on their situation. We're making sure they're going to the dentist. If they tell me they already have a dentist, I tell them that's great, hold on to the information and maybe pay it forward to a family member or a friend."
Since the program was introduced in 2006, more than 300 Clean Sweep operations have been conducted throughout the city.