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.

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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