Shortly after moving to Rio Rancho earlier this year, Katie Raspa couldn’t help but notice litter and debris left across parks and neighborhoods.

So, she and her family took decisive action to help clean up the City of Vision and ensure it remains that way — launching Rio Rancho Community Clean-Up.

The mission’s simple: inspiring people to get out, pick up litter and raise awareness.

Cheryl Kemnitz, left, and Sofie Kemnitz help pick up litter during Rio Rancho Community Clean-Up’s first-ever cleanup event on July 24 at Los Montoyas Park in Rio Rancho.
(Matt Hollinshead/Observer)

“We love the city, and we just want to make it as beautiful as possible for everyone who lives here,” said Raspa, who moved with her husband, Matt, and daughters, Caroline and Imogene, from Baltimore in March. “We want people to come to Rio Rancho and think, ‘Wow, what a nice neighborhood. I want to live here; I want to work here; I want to shop here; I want to eat here.’ We just feel like having the litter cleaned up is gonna improve not only the lives of the residents, but also the visitors.”

Raspa, who was drawn to New Mexico’s weather and access to places like the Sandia Mountains, also said she wants relatives — and other visitors, for that matter — to have a good first impression of the place her family now calls home.

The group had its first cleanup project July 24 at Los Montoyas Park on the northwest side of town, with plans to make it a regular occurrence. Although exact future dates are still being determined, Raspa said she’s planning to hold cleanup sessions at least once a month in different sections of Rio Rancho.

“We’re hoping to keep growing, keep building awareness and just really expand… We also want to empower people to be leaders in their own neighborhoods,” she said. “For now, we’re going to do what we can and start opening people’s eyes. Even if people aren’t at the cleanup event, we hope that they drive by and see people cleaning up the litter and are inspired to do it themselves.”

Raspa also said Rio Rancho Community Clean-Up is a kid-friendly project, with the goal of seeing residents take notice of youngsters’ contributions in making “more sustainable choices” to help better their neighborhood.

To learn more about the group, visit facebook.com/RRCleanUp/.

Imogene Raspa, center, and Caroline Raspa, right, help with Rio Rancho Community Clean-Up’s first-ever cleanup event on July 24 at Los Montoyas Park in Rio Rancho.
(Matt Hollinshead/Observer)

Matt Hollinshead | Staff writer