One of the main objectives of Susquehanna Malayalee Association (SMA) has been to provide service to members of SMA and the Community. After establishing as a nonprofit organization in 2008, SMA took a couple of years to streamline the operations and bringing efficiency in running the organization on a daily and annual basis. Once established, SMA decided to venture into other activities that benefit SMA members and local community.
Adopt-A Highway initiative of SMA
Adopt-A-Highway program reinforces PennDOT’s (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) litter pick-up efforts by involving citizens across the Commonwealth in anti-litter efforts in Pennsylvania’s collective “front yard”, its 150,000 acres of roadside. The program serves to provide clean, well-cared-for highways for Pennsylvania’s citizens, highway users and the millions of tourists who visit the state each year. The program allows groups or individuals to become special “caretakers” of portions of state highways. SMA decided to support PennDOTS’s Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program, by adopting two (2) miles of State Route 443, also known as Fishing Creek Road in Dauphin County. Volunteers of SMA will conduct four outings a year for cleaning up this section of the highway. This way we are providing community serviced through PennDOT program and SMA members are also benefited as a result of this initiative.
This gives an opportunity for our members to show our pride as service minded people. Based on newspaper reports, SMA may be the first Kerala/Malayalee association in the US, took such an active role in serving the community. This exemplifies our culture and heritage that we definitely involve in the betterment of the community we live in by extending our serving hands. This is an opportunity for our members and kids to earn community service credits, get involved and dedicated, and live and grow as civic minded individuals.
The effort was a tool for educating our members about the litter problem in Pennsylvania. Highway littering is a serious concern. Our outings are used to emphasize:
- Don’t litter
- Learn about litter so you can teach others that prevention is a wise choice to make.
- If you see a friend litter, tell them why they shouldn’t litter.
- If you see litter, pick it up. (Unless it is broken glass which should be swept up.)
Education is an important tool. People who are aware of the dangers of litter often make more of an effort to always put their trash in the correct place. They also spread the word to others they see littering and teach them to dispose of garbage the right way. Community clean ups encourage people to take pride in their community and keep it clean. Quick removal of litter keeps it from growing into an unmanageable dump site. People can make a difference.
AAH program is also used by our members to learn more about highway safety. PennDOT or representative provides safety training for volunteers as well as orange safety vests and highway warning signs for use during litter pick-ups. Volunteers must be at least eight years old, and participants under age 18 must be accompanied by adults. SMA members and participating kids over 8 are given safety instruction that need to be followed during the litter pick-up outing.SMA used the AAH program outings very efficiently to promote all the main points listed above. Now our members are more involved in community service they are more aware of the need of litter control and highway safety. We will continue with our effort in the years to come focusing on serving the community, educating our members and others about the issues of littering and making them aware of highway safety and the importance of safety while they are on the road driving, walking, bicycling or picking up litter.