PULLMAN — Pullman’s College Hill is neater and a bit more neighborly thanks to the efforts of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity (SAE). Since mid-October, SAE members have spent Sunday mornings picking up litter, raking leaves, and removing snow on Indiana Street, Monroe Street, Garfield Street and Illinois Street. In the process, they’ve built ties with local residents and developed a deep sense of pride in their community.
SAE members Kyle McKeeman, senior health and fitness major, and Scott Hertzel, senior business major, developed the service project to give back to permanent Pullman residents who coexist with students and Greek houses on College Hill.
“After every weekend we’d notice beer cans, cups and fast-food wrappers,” said McKeeman.  Corporate sponsors — including Stubblefield’s, The Coug, and Tri-Cities organizations Tradewinds, Fowler, and EMPZ — donated funds for rakes, garbage bags and other supplies.
Thomas Brigham, a WSU psychology professor and 35-year resident of College Hill, says he’s been pleasantly surprised by their level of dedication — students even stayed in town to clean up the Sunday before Thanksgiving break.  While he was happy when he first learned of the project, Brigham was not optimistic that the students would follow through. “Happily, I was wrong.  Every other Sunday morning they’ve been there, even raking leaves for many of our older residents. But the ultimate test of their resolve was the cold and rainy Sunday after the Apple Cup. When other folks were on their way home, they were out picking up the neighborhood.”
Allison Munch-Rotolo, chair of the College Hill Association, commends the group for their efforts. “The dedication they’ve shown is truly exemplary.  Although they can’t pick up the entire neighborhood, they’ve taken responsibility for a portion of it—about four square blocks. It’s a sustainable, student-initiated model, and we can only hope that it spreads to other organizations, especially those in the Greek community.”
Participation is optional for SAE members. “It’s important to us that it’s student-driven,” said McKeeman. “We don’t want it to be a chore. When you’re out there raking with your friends, it doesn’t feel like work. We have a ‘find of the day’—we find cell phones, shoes and all sorts of things.” One shrub, known for being a particularly popular littering spot, has become known as ‘The Giving Bush.’”
During the cold months of winter, SAE members are on call to take out garbage or shovel snow for local residents. McKeeman and Hertzel are now working with Senior Campus Planner Bobbie Ryder and the College Hill Association to develop a map of College Hill with different “territories” that could be adopted by other Greek organizations. “Our goal is to have the whole neighborhood covered,” said McKeeman. “That way, you take pride in your own block. We’re excited to get other groups involved in the spring.”
Editor’s Note: Kyle McKeeman was awarded a Distinguished Service Learning Award by the WSU Center for Civic Engagement in April 2009. “Kyle is a senior Health & Fitness major and is receiving this award for his action and commitment as one the chief organizers of the College Hill Association Adopt-a-Block program for his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon,” said award information.