WEST ENGLEWOOD — Daryl Parks said he was happy to return to Englewood Monday to help fellow ComEd co-workers kick off National Volunteer Week.
National Volunteer Week is an annual, nationwide movement that encourages individuals and organizations to improve communities through volunteer service.
Parks and seven of his co-workers spent two hours cleaning up around Earle STEM Elementary School, 2040 W. 62nd St., less than a block away from where his mother lives.
"My mother lives right there on the corner at 62nd and Seeley. We moved to Englewood in 1972 and I graduated from Lindblom High School," Parks said. "I am a permanent fixture of this community. Coming back to Englewood means that we [ComEd] care. Englewood is instilled in me. That's who I am and I am proud of it."
ComEd cleaning up Englewood is nothing new for the energy provider, whose employees annually volunteer for various community projects, according to spokesman Michael Henry.
"One of our cornerstones at ComEd is volunteerism. Our clean-up efforts in Chicago won't end this week," Henry said. "We have 100 activities planned for this month."
Henry said ComEd events would include volunteers planting trees, cleaning up parks, mentoring to students, and building homes.
ComEd employees also volunteered Monday in South Shore to feed the homeless at The Night Ministry organization, and on Saturday will help clean up Hamilton Park in Englewood.
Earle Principal Demetrius Hobson said students were unable to help Monday because it was report card pickup day.
"ComEd is showing they really care about the community. But there's no reason why we can't organize our own clean-up day with students," Hobson said. "That is something I would like to see next year."
Darlene O'Bannon, a longtime Englewood resident, also volunteered.
"My parents have lived in Englewood since 1969. I have four grandkids that attend Earle and I have roots in the community," O'Bannon said. "It's not where you live but how you live. All the other schools can be nice and beautiful, so why can't our school be nice and beautiful?"
Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th), whose ward includes Earle, said after a long winter it was time to clean up.
"We want our neighborhood to look good. Hopefully next year we can have students participate," Thompson added as she raked a pile of leaves.
Aside from ComEd one Englewood nonprofit is planning its own clean-up day. Imagine Englewood If will sponsor its third annual Volunteer Greater Englewood Unity Day Clean on April 26.
The event is a collaboration of organizations and residents working toward beautifying the community, said Jean Carter-Hill, co-founder of the Imagine Englewood If, 730 W. 69th St.
"The plan is to clean up areas near our offices and then have a cookout afterward," Carter-Hill said. "This is a local initiative but we welcome everybody to come out and help."