United Cerebral Palsy Team Keeps Downtown Lodi Clean

Most of us don’t think about who is picking up our downtown. Personally, it never really crossed my mind. I don’t know if I assumed the businesses themselves have been doing all the cleaning (I’m sure they do quite a bit) or what. It’s just one of those little things you take for granted. Well it turns out a team of people from United Cerebral Palsy of San Joaquin have been keeping the streets looking good for over 10 years. In 1989 they started a program called the Supported Employment program to help people with disabilities find and maintain employment within their communities. A handful of these program participants are the ones keeping downtown Lodi looking, as one business owner put it, “snappy.”

We did a story on this for Good Day Sacramento, and it got such a good response I wanted to share a little more of what Phyllis, the team supervisor told me before we went live. Phyllis didn’t expect to end up working with people with disabilities. She worked for a tech company out of Stockton who eventually relocated to the bay area and after a few years that commute got to be too much. A friend suggested she come work with United Cerebral Palsy (UCP). She was hesitant because she’s never worked with people with disabilities before, but she tried it anyways and loves it. Now she’s out with these guys every morning picking up the town. One of the things that has stood out to Phyllis since taking on this role is that these guys are dedicated to show up to the job. If something happens to their ride, they ride their bikes, they make phone calls, they get on the bus. They don’t make excuses, they just show up. She laughed that sometimes she gets calls from her grandkids asking for rides while these guys will hop on a bike if their ride gets canceled. They’re very motivated to do a good job and they take their responsibilities seriously. They’re out there rain or shine or freezing weather. There’s no excuses, they just do their job.

I also spoke a bit to David Kirstin, who owns the Woolworth building in downtown (which is home to the Mud Mill, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and several other businesses). One of the things that really stood out to him about these guys, is that it’s the same group of guys who have been doing this for years. He knows them and has relationships with them. When he arrived he joked around with each of them and said hi to each person by name. It was clear that he knew them and appreciated them. I could never speak for every business, but from the few that I spoke to they all really appreciate what the UCP does to help keep downtown clean. We know first impressions matter so having this team to help keep the business’s store front looking is appreciated.

Jonelle Steckman, a business owner who gave me the idea for this story, said it’s inspiring to see these guys out here supporting our downtown and I totally agree. It’s great to see how when we involve all the different groups in our community it makes us shine more. Thank you to the UCP for helping keep downtown Lodi clean. If you see them out around downtown bright and early, before most businesses open up, be sure to wave and give these guys a nice thank you!

For more information on the UCP supported work program, click here.

Jamie Vilinskas