Carina and Mark Carter's response to being named the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce's 2019 ThisWeek Booster Community Volunteers of the Year was typical of people who freely dedicate their time to something in which they firmly believe.
"I think our reaction was, 'Oh, that wasn't necessary,' " Mark Carter said. "It's nice, don't get me wrong. But it's not why we do it."
"We feel honored to be recognized," Carina Carter said. "We love Clintonville. We do it for the community at large."
The "it" for the Carters is being part of the Adena Brook cleanup crew for at least a dozen years, with a particular emphasis on the much-littered intersection of Indianola Avenue and East Cooke Road, said Judy Robinson, another member of the team who nominated the couple for the award.
"They've been part of the Adena Brook lead team now for probably 13 years, and I've worked with them closely," Robinson said. "What makes them unique is they have chosen ... to take care of the corner of Indianola and Cooke Road, out among the traffic, the litter, the noise. They walk their mower down there. Sometimes it requires a couple times a week. It's not the most beautiful or soothing or relaxing location, like the rest of us get to do. We're down in the beauty of the ravine. They're out on the freeway.
"They're there consistently and constantly."
"We've taken ownership of that corner," Carina Carter said.
However, they don't actually own it, as an acquaintance once mistakenly assumed after seeing them on their usual Saturday cleanups from March through early November.
Mark Carter said he recalls being quizzed during a neighborhood Christmas party on why in the world he would buy such a property.
"We had to clarify that for them," he said.
Robin Baker, who also nominated the Carters as Community Volunteers of the Year, said their dedication to "their" corner is special.
"That's giving up a Saturday morning an hour or two," she said. "We all have other things to do on Saturdays."
The Carters are retired. Mark Carter was a teacher for 35 years, mostly with Upper Arlington Schools. Carina Carter was a full-time mother of four as well as a part-time preschool teacher.
They began their cleanup crusade at Cooke and Indianola after being "dismayed" by the trash and weeds.
"It was so upsetting to us to come into the neighborhood and see that mess," Carina Carter said.
"It bothers us, so we'll become part of the solution," her husband said.
"We consider that our gateway, and they help us make a good impression," Robinson said.
"We have a lot of pride in Clintonville," Mark Carter said. "We love the people we know here. When we pull off the freeway and it looks nice, it just makes me feel like that's how our community should look.
"It sets a tone."
Last year's Community Volunteer of the Year was Nancy Stewart, who died Dec. 28 at age 79.
Stewart was known as a tireless champion for Clintonville and her Sharon Heights neighborhood.
She also was a regular volunteer and a fixture at Clintonville Area Commission meetings.
Other recent Community Volunteers of the Year include Clintonville residents Judy and Tom Skinner; Greg Denby of the Columbus Metropolitan Library; Will Reiss of Bishop Watterson High School; and Cat Erney of the Clintonville Farmers Market.
The Carters, along with the chamber's Business of the Year, Moo Moo Express Car Wash, and Businessperson of the Year, John Robinson of Johnny Velo Bikes, will be feted during the 19th annual Celebrate Clintonville event, set Feb. 28 at the Clintonville Woman's Club.