We Are The Change: Diverse group of volunteers unite to clean up San Bernardino

IECN photo We Are The Change: Luis Ojeda, left, has vowed to commit four more years to the weekly cleanup effort, one that brings the community of all ages and ethnicities together in the shared goal of a clean city.

It started as one man’s mission to clean up the streets of San Bernardino one Sunday at a time. Luis Ojeda, frustrated by the lack of action taken to remove trash from his own neighborhood earlier this year, took it upon himself to clear the garbage. Ojeda owns a demolition company in the city, Khan D’ Kulia, giving him access to equipment and dump trucks.

Photo We Are The Change: Group of volunteers during a cleanup event.

Nine months later, Ojeda’s project, We Are The Change, has become a movement, one that showcases the commitment of a community dedicated to reinvigorating and beautifying the city. Ojeda is now joined by a diverse group of 35 – 55 volunteers made up of different races, political affiliations, sexual orientation, young and old, united in his mission, meeting each Sunday to help clear debris from city streets.

“(The diversity) proves to everyone that we can work out our differences and work towards a common goal for our community, because all of us love our city,” explained Ojeda.

“I want to show the world that in San Bernardino we have valuable, caring and loving people.”

Carolina Verduzco has been volunteering with We Are The Change for five months. She is a Rialto resident.

“I feel San Bernardino is a great city, I’ve seen it decline, and we really need to reach out to help the city because it affects the rest of the area,” Verduzco, who brings her three children to volunteer with her, explained. “I see San Bernardino coming around to be a great city again, and together we are making positive change.”

Ojeda disclosed that when he first started out people were skeptical of his motives.

“They were suspicious about my intentions, but I didn’t align with anyone, no candidate or office,” Ojeda said. “I think it’s important to lead by example, it’s necessary in every city. It’s not enough to just talk about doing something, go do something.”

For the first seven months Ojeda covered all costs associated with the cleanup, supplying rakes, gloves and covering dump fees. It was after he spoke up during a city council meeting that Burrtec agreed to take the trash for free.

According to Ojeda they have collected over 55 tons of garbage and 350 tires to date. He has no plans slow down – Ojeda declared his commitment to the effort for four more years.

“My goal is to make San Bernardino number one in four years,” Ojeda concluded. “We will show our neighbors and the world a clean city.”

You can follow We Are The Change on Facebook @WeAreTheChangeSBVolunteers.