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First Clean Up by Best You Best Me: Oatlands Mill Rd, Leesburg, VA

AuthorRichard Zaher

In 2018, business was going well for my company 'Paramount Business Jets.' It made the INC 500/5000 list of fastest-growing companies in the U.S. for the 3rd time. I felt pleased with PBJ's progress, but something was missing. So I started to wonder what matters in life and what makes me happy.

One morning that same year, I had a realization that the kindness I received and gave was the key to living my purpose. This inspired me to create a nonprofit called ‘Best You Best Me’ and build a website, I wanted to become more aware of the ways in which I could help others and make more of an effort every day to perform a small act of kindness. The idea was to alleviate suffering, empower those in need and inspire others to do the same with short films.

Richar Zaher sitting in a car while it's raining

A few weeks later, I jogged by Oatland Mills Road and noticed trash everywhere. That’s when a new thought hit me; it was a perfect moment to do a cleanup action, an act of kindness that might spark a significant change in our community and become the first Best You Best Me story to share. 

Tires laying in the bushes at Oatland Mills Road

The following day, I woke up early, took a shower, got dressed, and walked to the door with all the best intentions in the world. I was prepared for cold weather, but it was raining and snowing. Going out in the freezing rain to pick up trash is not something many people willingly do. My mind raced from one thought to another. Should I do this or postpone it? Should I wait for better weather? I had to calm my thoughts, override my mind, and say, “I am going to do this today.” 

I rented a truck, went to Oatland Mills Road, and started cleaning up the area. I filled bag after bag. Next to the small trash, I also picked up tires and TV sets that had been lying there for many months, based on how they looked. The change was already noticeable; it was beautiful without the trash that had polluted the ground and the view. I kept working, cleaning up for hours, and filling countless bags.

A truck full of trash after cleaning up Oatland Mills Road

Several car parts and rusted brake drums were below the Oatland Mills Road bridge and in the stream. They were too deep in the mud, so I picked up cans lying next to the water and decided to return with proper equipment the next day for the car parts. 

The road was soon almost clean. I then asked my wife to bring our 4-year-old twin sons to finish the last part with them. We cleaned it together and put the last bags in the truck. It was a peaceful and spiritual experience. As the birds chirped and the wind blew through the trees, I felt a sense of calmness in the air. The forest seemed to thank us for our efforts. I drove the truck to Loudoun County Landfill Recycling, where I discovered that we had picked up 630 pounds of trash that day.

Richard Zaher and his kids cleaning up Oatland Mills Road

It was a tiring day but one I’ll never forget; it felt like one of the best days of my life. I knew that this was the start of something special. And I was right; it was just the beginning of our beautiful journey. Since then, the Best You Best Me has been actively giving back to the community where there is suffering through volunteering and financial donations, as well as hugs and kind words.


Richard Zaher

About the author

Honesty, hard work, and treating people well – these are cornerstones of my life and Best You Best Me foundation. I try to keep my eyes and heart open because opportunities for kindness are everywhere.

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