Hancock residents Pitch in for Parks

Courtney Babcock is helped by her children Evan, 5, and Brody, 6, as they clean up leaves on the steps leading from East Hancock to the Portage Lake Lift Bridge during Thursday’s Pitch in for Parks event. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo)

HANCOCK — The public spaces people will enjoy in Hancock this summer got spruced up Thursday thanks to teams of volunteers in the city’s annual Pitch in for Parks event.

Volunteers contacted the city, who assigned them to spots nearby in need of upkeep. Shortly after the event began, bags filled with leaves could already be spotted at several sites throughout the city.

Courtney Babcock was raking leaves along with her sons Evan, 5, and Brody, 6, on the steps leading down to the Portage Lake Lift Bridge. Babcock, who works at OHM, which frequently performs engineering work for Hancock, said she volunteers for city events whenever possible.

Last year, they volunteered at Pine Park, where they painted benches.

Bringing her children is important “so then they will help later on and know it’s important to be part of the community,” she said.

About a half-hour into this year’s event, several bags of leaves were already piled up at Pine Park, where the volunteers included students from Hancock Central High School’s National Honor Society.

Eleventh-grader Jayden Nuttall and his friends headed to the park directly from school. By the time everyone else arrived at 4 p.m., they had already started raking.

“If no one does this, it’s not going to be clean,” he said. “If they do this once a year, then it should stay nice if people volunteer.”

Thursday’s time helped the NHS students complete their community service hours. But it also had other benefits, the students said.

“Personally, I think it’s good that we need to get the hours in, because it allows us to help give back to the community,” said 11th-grader Josh Hill. “…This is a place for everyone to enjoy, so everyone should pitch in once in a while to help keep it clean.”

Also helping out at the park was Elin Guevara, who recently moved to Hancock.

“I just saw an ad on Facebook and was like, ‘I should go help,'” she said. “That’s the reason I’m out here, to make it look nice for all the kids.”

At Porvoo Park, members of the Lighthouse United Pentecostal Church were cleaning up.

“We volunteer because we want the city to be nice, and for people to come here, and for the kids to play,” said David Freeze, whose son-in-law is the pastor. “I’ve got 13 great-grandkids here.”

The day brought people together who’d never met before. Freeze was being helped by Manuela Rose, a newcomer to Hancock who saw the clean-up as she was walking by. She’d participated in similar projects at her home in east Germany.

Things like Pitch in for Park help “to keep clean, to make it look better,” she said.

After the work was completed, volunteers headed to the Hancock Fire Hall for a cookout.


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