Community aids Ecorse grandma with car repairs for years of litter clean up

Brenda York, a grandmother who has lived in Ecorse for over four decades, is not afraid to get her hands dirty to keep her town clean.

She doesn't do it to get anything in return, but she is grateful that people have taken notice and are helping her in her time of need.

York, 73, stressed that she is no celebrity. She just loves keeping her city clean.

"It’s made me feel more like home," she said. "Even though I’ve been here all these years, being a part of the community has made me feel like I’m home." 

Over the past three years, during the warmer seasons, York has been dedicated to ensuring that the Outer Drive area remains clear of debris. She even took to the Ecorse community Facebook page several times to write about where she was cleaning that day.

"I get depressed a lot and that’s part of the reason I wanted to pick up the litter, you know," the grandmother said. "It kept my mind going. And then… I started meeting people." 

Brenda York has been cleaning her Ecorse community for about three years now. When she needed help the most, her neighbors stepped up.  (Provided by Brenda York)

People on the street would say "hi" or honk to her from their cars, York said. Some would even bring her water or Gatorade to thank her for her efforts.

"When I would write on the (FB) page, I called them my Honkers," she added.

But after posting online about her car breaking down last Wednesday, the community came together to help her in a big way.

"All of a sudden, they started collecting pop bottles and turning them in, bringing me the money," York said. "The mayor himself has brought me money." 

The community has been donating money to help York pay for her car repairs – either by leaving money at her doorstep or through PayPal.

So far, she has received about $900 in total. She is grateful for every cent because she does not get a lot from social security.

"I only get $960 a month," York said. "The transmission (is) $3,235 out the door, he told me." 

The news was upsetting, but the donations have been a big help. 

"They said they wanted to pay it forward for all that I’ve done," she said.

Regardless, York never did it to get anything in return, but the experience is turning neighbors and strangers into loved ones for life.

"I feel like I've got a lot of friends… or family, you know, (be)cause that’s what really part of it’s become," York said.