Park clean-up hopes for clear path to employment: 'They get to give back'

Gresham park.jpg

After a successful program last year that saw volunteers pick up nearly 6,600 bags of trash, the City of Gresham and Central City Concern have teamed up for a larger program that will provide job experience to a dozen homeless people every week.

"Kind of reacquaint them," said city spokesperson Elizabeth Coffey. "They get to give back to the community and they'll get a great letter of recommendation at the end that will help them on their journey."

The homeless people get a stipend for the work they put in. Tasks include clearing abandoned homeless camps, as well as landscaping, such as weeding.

The program launched in March and will go year-round. 480 volunteer hours have already been put in.

"It really helps our staff out, we have a resource that we can call on five days," Coffey said. "'Hey, we've got an area in this park that really needs to be cleaned up.'"

Park-goers already say they noticed there's less trash and debris around the city's parks.

"It's much better now," said Patricia Poulalion. "They've cleaned it up really well."

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