Bruner Hill community cleanup to help man dig out of trash-filled backyard

Cliff Hope is full of just that.

At 46, the disabled Tulsan is the proud owner of his first home. But before he and his daughter can move in, he needs to dig out of a mess left inside and outside the house.

“They took the air conditioner, they knocked out a bunch of windows – I mean, everything has to be remodeled,” Hope said.

He was speaking from the edge of his backyard, where he could look down into a ravine at the real ugliness: old dryers, bags of trash, a blue plastic kiddie pool, a brown porcelain toilet, another bag of trash, rusted bed springs, a red, plastic ice cooler, shingles and more bags of trash.

Hope said he doesn’t know who is responsible for wrecking the house and trashing the ravine. He just knows that when he recently bought the property in the Bruner Hill neighborhood between Tulsa and Sand Springs, it was an “as-is” deal with the bank.

“I thought it was a lot of work, but for as cheap as the house was, eventually, I just thought, a little at a time, I would try to knock it (the trash) out,” he said.

But that was before Hope knew anything about Saturday’s Bruner Hill communitywide cleanup, an effort spearheaded by Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith. The event begins at 8 a.m. and will include a block party from noon to 3 p.m. at Twin Cities Elementary School.

And therein lies Hope’s reason for being hopeful.

“The timing (of the cleanup) was great,” he said. “It was just out of the blue. I was going to try to do it on my own a little at a time, and then all of a sudden, here they are.”

“They,” in this case, are members of Guts Church in Tulsa, who recently visited Hope and other property owners in the Bruner Hill area to see what kind of help they would need Saturday.

They will be joined by about 60 members of nearby Olivet Baptist Church. The two churches are also joining forces to provide food for the block party.

“Any chance we get to reach out to minister to the people of our community, we want to take that opportunity,” said Don Cook, Olivet’s associate pastor.

Keith’s interest in the neighborhood was sparked last year when she worked with a local Eagle Scout to place a plaque in Triangle Park commemorating William G. “Billy” Bruner, the Muscogee (Creek) Indian from Tulsa for whom the area is named.

Keith loved the people and the rolling hills and winding roads, but she couldn’t overlook the deteriorating homes and eyesores like the one in Hope’s backyard.

So she decided to put together a neighborhood cleanup and began making calls. The response was overwhelming. In addition to Olivet Baptist Church and Guts Church, other partners in the project are the Tulsa Beautification Foundation, supported by the George Kaiser Family Foundation; American Waste Control; Sam’s Club and the Metropolitan Environmental Trust.

On Saturday, volunteers and residents will clean common areas and properties in addition to completing household projects for several residents. Work is expected to continue over several weeks.

“My hope is that we can liven this neighborhood up, help some people who just need help and they don’t have the resources to do what needs to get done,” Keith said.

Count Cliff Hope, who described his budget as “limited,” in that group.

“I’m really scared of snakes,” he said, as he looked into the trashy ravine. “I mean, the insanity of it is, I don’t even want it (junk) around my kids. It can’t be safe.”
Bruner Hill Cleanup Kickoff

Volunteers are asked to assemble at 8 a.m. Saturday at Olivet Baptist Church, 155 N. 65th West Ave., to be given their assignments.

By KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer 
Published: 3/31/2012  2:26 AM 
Last Modified: 3/31/2012  7:42 AM

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