Harold Seabrook learned early the importance of keeping his surroundings unsoiled and litter free.
The 61-year-old retired from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control after 35 years of service as section manager of waste assessment with the Bureau of Solid and Hazardous Waste. He also served on the Keep America Bea.jpgul Committee while at DHEC.
Seabrook had more recently worked in South Carolina State University's Office of Service Learning as an AmeriCorps*VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to America, member.
VISTA provides full-time members to nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations and public agencies to create and expand programs that ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty. Seabrook is now serving in the Office of Service Learning at Benedict College in Columbia.
Seabrook, who is also a member of the Community Advisory Panel at Orangeburg's Albemarle Corp., takes pride in his community and in September gathered a group of SCSU honor students to aid in the completion of a new wildlife habitat project at Albemarle.
It is Seabrook's penchant for keeping his community clean and in working order that has earned him the designation as the exemplification of cleanliness for the month of November as part of Orangeburg County's Community of Character initiative.
"I'm honored. My mother always said, 'Carry yourself accordingly because as you walk, there are people watching you.' Just be true to yourself and true to your community," Seabrook said.
Seabrook said the property on which the wildlife habitat at Albemarle was constructed was once a dumping ground. More than 150 bags of trash were collected, along with metal, glass and tires. A turtle pond, surrounded by nine large pallets of rock, was also constructed as well as a split rail fence for a Carolina Fence Garden.
"Mr. Seabrook actually approached us and offered the help of his group to help us complete this important project. It was greatly needed and appreciated. It was good to see a CAP member volunteer to help," said Kim Krisle, project facilitator at Albemarle.
Seabrook said cleanliness is a trait that stuck with him thanks to his principal at C.A. Brown High School in Charleston. The principal would encourage Seabrook to help him pick up trash around the school campus.
"I asked, 'Why are you doing this?' He said, 'This school represents me, and I take ownership of this school from the inside to the outside.' That was it. When he said that, that stuck with me," Seabrook said. "I'm not going to walk over trash. I'm going to pick it up, and I try to encourage kids to use the receptacles for trash."
Life on Aiken Street in Charleston also included lessons on cleanliness, especially from Seabrook's late mother, Margaret.
"People call Charleston God's country, but where we lived we always had to clean the front step, the yard and the area in front of our house. We lived right next to a grocery store, and we cleaned in front of the store," Seabrook said.
"It began with my mother. She said, 'Your room is your world. Organize your room, and your world will be organized.' It's something your bought into … and I emulated that. My kids did the same thing, too. It's the simple things you take for granted, but if it's a strong foundation that you believe in, then that's just it," Seabrook said.
He and his wife, Blondell, have three children: Kerry, 42; Zandria, 40 and Harold, 39.
Seabrook said keeping the community clean doesn't take a national effort. He said it can start locally by stressing to youth the importance of keeping their communities clean. He admonished adults to lead by example.
"A picture is worth a thousand words. If a child sees what you're doing without grumbling about it, it'll be a spontaneous involvement. Take the lead and be proud of what you have and what you're doing," he said.
"If everyone does their own small part, you'd be surprised. It'll add together and have a domino effect."