Harbaugh Real Estate

6th Annual Fish Creek Cleanup is Angel Carter's Last to Lead

For the past 6 years, Angel Carter has worked tirelessly to make south Arlington a better place to live. As the organizer for the annual Fish Creek Cleanup (in addition to the countless other volunteer work she does), Angel has been the nonpareil community champion for change.

Angel Carter

Though Angel isn't going anywhere, she is ready to hand off the baton of some of her work to the next generation of volunteers.

Fish Creek

For those who may not know the area, Fish Creek is a feeder creek to Mountain Creek Lake in Dallas. Its headwaters are located in south Arlington near Bardin Rd and Matlock Rd. The cities of Arlington and Grand Prairie have created an extensive paved trail system that roughly follows Fish Creek from Matlock Rd in Arlington all the way to Lake Ridge Parkway in Grand Prairie.

For years, I have run, cycled, and walked the Fish Creek area, and the only thing I have ever disliked about the area is the trash that seems to collect along the trail and creek. Fortunately, I am not the only one.

One day in the fall of 2018 after I ran the trail, I mentioned to my wife Heather that I'd love to see us somehow get the creek and park areas cleaned up. A day or so later, Angel posted on social media that she was looking to recruit volunteers to help organize a trash cleanup of Fish Creek. I was all in!

Introducing Angel Carter

I immediately responded to Angel's post, and we met up in person soon thereafter to talk about how the cleanup might work.

I learned that Angel is a disabled Marine Corps veteran who had been walking along Fish Creek daily for many years. She says she finds the area, with its lush trees, wildlife, and water, soothing to her soul. After serving in Desert Storm and experiencing the traumas of combat, Angel says that the Fish Creek area has helped her find herself. Like me, her only complaint about the area is the trash.

Fish Creek Cleanup is Born!

The group of volunteers for Fish Creek Cleanup 2024

And, so, Fish Creek Cleanup was born. As many of you know, I have a full time gig as both a musician and a real estate agent, so my available time to dedicate to organizing this event was going to be limited. Angel, on the other hand, was retired and felt like this was her calling for this period of her life.

Over the next 6 years, Angel served the community unwaveringly as the primary organizer and cheerleader for the annual Fish Creek Cleanup. "Every day I would look at all the trash and realize it was too big for one person to conquer", said Carter. As a result, Angel began to reach out to people she knew in the south Arlington area to get support. "People everywhere agreed that this area needed some attention", Angel says. Soon, she was talking with different departments within the city of Arlington, including the parks department and storm water management, in order to craft a plan for the cleanup.

The first cleanup took place on a cold misty Saturday morning in January 2019. In spite of the weather, nearly 300 people showed up to help with the effort, and the amount of trash they collected was staggering. Angel says people pulled tires, sinks, car parts, even an old Ford pickup out of the creek area.

Fish Creek Cleanup Gains Momentum

two people picking up trash

After the first year's success, Angel decided to reach out to fellow veterans for help and realized there are already various organizations around the metroplex that participate in volunteer efforts such as the Fish Creek Cleanup. She recruited groups such as The Mission Continues and The Travis Manion Foundation to help. The result was a nearly doubling of volunteers for the second year.

With so many people showing up to help, Angel felt compassion for all the folks who were spending 4 hours of their Saturday morning to help clean up. She knew people got hungry and thirsty, so she found volunteers to donate food and water for the event.

Over the years, various school groups, scout troops, church groups, Masonic Lodges, as well as numerous individuals have come together on the last Saturday of January to make the south Arlington and south Grand Prairie areas a better place for everyone. And, behind all this effort and service is Angel Carter!

Angel Hands Off the Baton

While this has been a labor of pure love for Angel Carter over that past 6 years, she feels it is time for her to let someone else lead the effort. Next year, Anna Leone with Vet Starts will be organizing and leading the effort. Anna says she is looking forward to continuing the mission that Angel began in 2019.

Anna says, "At Vet Starts, we are all about serving our veterans and our community. Fish Creek Cleanup is a great way to engage both." She says she has enjoyed getting to know Angel and learning about all the different areas along the creek. Anna says she plans to continue the great work that Angel has started, and she hopes to engage even more folks to help next year.

For those who may be interested in helping next year, mark your calendars for January 25, 2025, and stay tuned for more details about meeting times and locations!