By Gina Valencia
Photo by Monique Kuhlman
“To make a difference in our neighborhood,” Casey Carver said. “That’s our mission.”
Through his involvement with several organizations and events in his community, Casey IS making a difference.
The Army veteran and retired LBPD jail sergeant keeps busy with neighborhood clean-up events, is on the board for the Long Beach Police Historical Society, organizes alumni events for his alma mater Lakewood High School, and fundraises for various groups.
“When I get involved in something, I really get involved,” Casey said. “I don’t want to get in a group that just has meetings and complains. I want to do something about issues.”
Casey thoroughly enjoys being involved. His military and law enforcement careers taught him about belonging, following through on commitments, accomplishing goals, and most importantly, making connections and building trust with neighbors.
Many of his fellow volunteers are veterans. “We know what it’s like to be part of a team,” Casey said. “We know tough times.”
Janice Bennett has seen his efforts in the neighborhood firsthand as the office manager at Tom’s Automotive Service Center, which is in the district where Casey leads clean-up groups. The monthly clean-up events, held through the Zaferia Heights Association, run January through November; and serve to collect all types of trash, including large bulky items such as furniture, appliances, tires, and building materials.
“Casey does so much for the community,” Janice said. “I value the time and effort he spends to make our community the best it could be. He’s retired but works in our Long Beach community full time!”
The idea for clean-up events began years ago when Casey, who’s lived in that area for 45 years, and several neighbors noticed an increase in dumped furniture, unsightly piles of trash, graffiti, and unkept front lawns. Casey was determined to help where he could and offered his neighbors the space to get rid of clutter and junk so they could enjoy their homes and yards again.
He and his team organize with the city’s Neighborhood Services who provide the large dumpsters. They meet every 4th of the month in Orizaba Park, at 14th Street and Orizaba Avenue, 8 am -12 pm, and always welcome new volunteers. Every month, they collect an average of 5-6 tons.
“That’s about 55 tons of trash a year,” Casey said. “What would it be like if we didn’t?”
Casey believes, with a little effort, everyone can live in a safe and clean environment.
“[No matter your circumstances], you can still have a clean house and yard,” Casey said. “[It’s important to] take a little sense of pride in self and neighborhood.”
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
Casey knows the worth of his volunteers.
“I’m just the guy who organizes teams. It’s not about me, it’s ‘we.’ We’re a team committed to making our city and nation better,” he said. “We’re doing what we can. I’m surrounded by really good people.”
When Casey’s not leading volunteers or fundraising for organizations, he loves taking photographs, studying foreign languages, and traveling. He keeps himself busy but knows how to manage his time well, especially because he’s not ready to slow down.
“I might be retired, but I’m happy moving forward while I still have the ability,” said the senior citizen. “Maybe I can be an example to other people.”