Arkansas employing homeless to clean up trash: 'I'm giving back and making money'

12 News Now

Little Rock, Arkansas has found a unique way of dealing with litter around the city that's not only creating a cleaner community but also helping out the homeless.

In April 2019, the city began a six-month pilot program called Bridge to Work, paying homeless people $9.25 an hour – $2 more than the federal minimum wage – to collect trash off the streets. But it was so successful, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. recently extended through September 2020.

Canvas Community Church runs the program, employing eight people a day to pick up trash, clear weeds, and perform other cleaning tasks in exchange for cash and a meal, according to 12 News Now.

RELATED: Three young siblings started a candle company to pay for video games. Now they're giving back to help the homeless.


"We're super excited about what has gone on, and we hope to be able to keep the momentum going," Paul Atkins, an associate pastor at Canvas Community Church, said, according to the news station.

The program not only offers the homeless a paycheck, but also provides them access to mental and physical health services, as well as job interviews and, even temporary housing for some.

"We want to work with them on their next step," Atkins said. "There are a lot of barriers that our people experience to go from homelessness and panhandling to full-time work. There's a lot of steps in between."

As of September 2019, 380 people had joined the work crews, with some coming back multiple times. The group worked 1,821 hours, cleaned 130 sites, and collected 2,056 bags of trash within the first six months.

RELATED: This city might have discovered how to end homelessness. And it's sharing the secret.

"It's positive. I'm giving back and making money, setting an example for my son," Harond Goodlow Jr., a participant in the program, told12 News Now.

To get involved, contact Canvas Community Church.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less