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Community Champion Spotlight: Jill Mather
Community Champion Spotlight: Jill Mather Image

Life is a wild ride and when one avenue ends, often another begins. This is certainly the case with Jill Mather, Chatsworth Neighborhood Council member and founder of Volunteers Cleaning Communities. Jill has been an instrumental member of her community for over 20 years, but it was after her illustrious career in the food and entertainment industry that she found a renewed purpose in life. 


Following her own mother’s guidance, Jill set out to fill her life with a second career after retiring from her first. But this time, the goal was to find a career that fueled a deep passion. It was no longer about making a comfortable living, but rather making a difference. That is what led Jill to founding a community-led clean-up organization with the goal of cleaning up the greater Los Angeles area. And since founding Volunteers Cleaning Communities and Adopt 1 Street, the hard work has not stopped because the mission is more important than ever before. In Jill’s words, “It’s OUR community. That’s why it’s so important that WE take care of it together.” 


Volunteers Cleaning Communities


To this day, Volunteers Cleaning Communities brings community members together to help restore their own communities and neighboring communities to their pristine beauty. By utilizing modern platforms such as Patch and Nextdoor, Jill recruits volunteers from all over. These volunteers meet up to three times a week to focus on specific areas and clean up litter that could make its way into our waterways and eventually into the ocean. 


These efforts have been amplified since the COVID pandemic due to an increase in fast food containers and packaging, disposable masks, and gloves. With more people eating on the go rather than sitting down at restaurants, people haven’t always had easy access to trash receptacles, meaning that more trash is ending up on the street. But, even more than food containers, over the past decade cigarette butts have been plaguing our streets. Jill found 577 cigarette butts on a 4-mile walk and 284 the following day on the exact same stretch. Since indoor smoking has been eradicated, people now toss their butts on the street, rather than disposing of them properly. A cigarette butt may seem small and insignificant, but when thousands of these are making their way to the ocean every day, it poses a real threat to marine life. 


Beyond these clean-up events, Volunteers Cleaning Communities have been instrumental in supplying homeless camps with trash containers in an effort to minimize the amount of litter from these communities. By providing the trash receptacles, Jill has found the homeless populations to take immense pride in their community and keep the streets clean. It is often a matter of having access to trash disposal options and this effort has proved how valuable it can be to offer these disposal options to the general public. 


Volunteers Cleaning Communities also puts on many different events from Family Park Days, where kids can come meet and pet a donkey, then take part in a trash pick-up scavenger hunt to coordinating meetups with other community clean up clubs to combine efforts and develop a coordinated effort to clean up our city.


Adopt 1 Street Program


Beyond Volunteers Cleaning Communities, Jill has started another program, which aims to bring the cleanup even closer to home. The Adopt 1 Street Program is similar to the Adopt a Highway, except it allows volunteers to adopt a city street or block near and dear to them. When a volunteer adopts a street, they take ownership of the cleanup efforts of that street. But, because it is generally a street very close to that individual or family, it becomes much easier to clean things up as you pass by every day. This program has already resulted in over 75 streets being adopted and cleaned with hopes for many more in the future. 


If you’ve ever thought about getting involved to clean up your community, Jill urges you to take the first steps because it is YOUR community and it is YOUR streets that you walk up and down every day. Taking action is the first step towards improving your life and your community. For more information on how to get involved, visit Volunteers Cleaning Communities or the Adopt 1 Street Program, to learn how to get involved. And reach out to us with any comments or questions at lastormwater@lacity.org.


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