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Gospel mission, downtown association partner for cleaner streets

POSTED October 8, 2013 11:46 p.m.

A new partnership is making strides toward bettering the relationship between the business sector and homeless individuals and the byproduct is a spiffier downtown Turlock.

The Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association and the Turlock Gospel Mission have recently partnered together on an innovative program that has some of the Mission’s homeless clients taking on the responsibility of keeping the downtown corridor clean.

“The benefits of the partnership are two-fold,” said Dana McGarry, the assistant coordinator for the downtown association. “First, it’s augmenting the litter and graffiti issues in downtown. The other part is that it is giving an opportunity for displaced persons to positively contribute to their community.”

The clean-up crew typically hit the streets for about two to four hours each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They pick up trash, sweep the sidewalks, remove graffiti and a host of other chores, said Turlock Gospel Mission Executive Director Tim Guerino.

“We do it all and then some,” Guerino said. “We feel very blessed that the downtown stepped up and gave us this opportunity. It’s helping our people get used to working again. The hope is that we can develop this into something bigger with more work-related opportunities.”

For their efforts, the members of the clean-up crew are given gift cards to Jack in the Box and Main Street Footers.

The program has been in operation for about two weeks and the enthusiasm for it is growing among the business owners, McGarry said.

“This partnership has provided a solution to an immediate issue and is helping improve the overall health and vitality of downtown,” McGarry said.

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