Elkridge's Fab Four HOWARD COUNTY

April 02, 1993

What shall we call them? The Ladies Brigade of Elkridge, the Elkridge Trash Trojans or the Women's White-Glove Contingent?

Whatever the moniker, four Howard County women have taken their civic-mindedness seriously, applying a hands-on approach to community improvement. The women -- Phyllis Elliott, Mary Strow, Jane Wehland and Kathy Woods -- regularly pick up litter in their neighborhood, sometimes hauling it to the county landfill.

What they do is not very much different than the countless clean-up efforts that are organized every so often to clear pathways, parks or waterways.

The real departure is that each Elkridge woman came up with the clean-up idea independent of the others. And each works alone as part of a daily routine.

Theirs is a testament to the power of individuals making a difference. And their actions cut against the grain of traditional civic activism.

Phyllis Elliott epitomizes what it is to be a lone ranger. The 54-year-old Lawyers Hill resident found it too difficult to fit public meetings and hearings into her calendar. But she came up with the idea of picking up litter after attending a community association session, where the need for a clean-up drive was discussed.

"Maybe we don't need a cleanup crew," Ms. Elliott thought to herself. "Maybe we just need me." That was about five years ago. One can only imagine the impact Ms. Elliott's efforts have had on her community.

Likewise, the other women have put in great amounts of time. Ms. Woods, for instance, has focused her attention on major hauls, picking up such items as curtain rods, old toys, screen doors and concrete slabs. She makes what she calls "dump runs" every two weeks, packing trash into the back of her utility vehicle.

For all the time and energy invested in organizing citizens to come out and do the right thing on an occasional basis, there is something to be said for the simple approach involved when individual citizens decide to take up the charge -- on their own and all year-around.

Our hats are off to Elkridge's Fabulous Foursome. They've made a real contribution and they weren't even asked.

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