Glenwood Springs homeless, nonprofits team up for public land trash cleanup |

Glenwood Springs homeless, nonprofits team up for public land trash cleanup

Sean Johnson
Post Independent Intern
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Submitted photoA group of 13 people gathered in the open areas behind Wal-Mart on May 16 for a cleanup day. Seven pickup loads of trash were removed.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Many homeless people living in and around Glenwood Springs go to one area. A section of public land behind Wal-Mart has become a home for these people.

With a large number of people coming and going from that area, a large amount of trash has accumulated.

Individuals who are using the land to camp on expressed interest in cleaning up the area. Thirteen workers did this on May 16; nine homeless people, Katie Lerch and Kenneth Williams from Feed My Sheep, Holly Freeman from Catholic Charities, and Stacie Durrett from Salvation Army all pitched in to help with the cleanup.

Seven pickup truck loads of trash were picked up and hauled away by the end of the day. The homeless people living there now had been picking up and bagging the trash for weeks prior to the actual cleanup day. The city helped by providing a truck to pick up the trash load at the collection site once it was brought down off the land.

“The homeless put in countless hours of work because they care about the condition of the mountain and want to contribute to its care,” Lerch said. She believes the appreciation was mutual, and she enjoyed working alongside friends to improve the living area for the people using it.

Durrett stated that the people living there now take it upon themselves to bring their trash down. The majority of the trash has been building over the last several years and is left there even after people leave.

“The clients really do care about the place they live in,” Lerch said. She is glad the people have an interest in cleaning up the area. Lerch stated that without the preliminary work done by the homeless people they would have been starting out at square one, and the cleanup process would have been a bigger project then it already is.

The group will be doing a second cleanup day sometime in June to complete the job they started.

Lerch, along with the three other staff members, serve in the Transient Task Force, which gave the idea for the cleanup. The task force has been working over the last several months to address issues connected with homelessness, and to develop more communication and cooperation between the nonprofits who work directly with the homeless and other individuals within the community.

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