Where Asher, Erin and Mo hit the mean streets of PVD to clean up litter and partner with the Amos House.
Frog & Toad was just so damn excited to launch our new anti-litter campaign, featuring Oscar the seagull, this week. Part of our enthusiasm was a result of the fact that this is an unprecedented private/public collaboration with the Providence DPW. We've never been asked to work on a project of this scale before, and we're just plain giddy.
The biggest reason why this campaign is close to our hearts, though, is that it has given us an opportunity to partner with Amos House, a legendary Providence institution that provides supports and social services to our local unhoused community. One amazing feature of Amos House is the A Hand Up program, which provides jobs for people who really need them, paying them cash for a shift picking up trash or engaging in other neighborhood beautification tasks. This program REALLY works. Folks who work for A Hand Up also get help with housing, addiction treatment, medical services, and more.
Earlier this week, Erin, Asher, and Mo (from Providence DPW) went down to Amos House headquarters to distribute some badass new Oscar safety vests, join the Hand Up crew for a shift and find out what its like doing one of the most thankless jobs in the city.
We found a crew of hardworking and dedicated people who took their mission to clean up the streets very, very seriously. AHU Supervisors Rio and Muhammed were two of the coolest guys you'll ever meet, and shuttled us to different areas in need of particular attention. Rio made it clear that we weren't to touch any used needles on the ground, but rather to call them in for safety. He also told us not to put any broken glass in our trash bags, but I promptly forgot about that detail.
Man, the team really looked sharp in their new Oscar vests. I couldn't believe how many passersby asked us or other team members how they could sign up for this work. They thanked various team members for doing what they do, and I could tell that getting that respect meant the world to A Hand Up workers. When an older fellow (who appeared to be struggling with addiction) was passing us by, he took a mighty big fall and dropped his takeout food container. One of the AHU team members rushed over to help him back to his feet while another grabbed his food for him. That's where I realized what these people are doing goes far beyond picking up litter.
Just wanna take a second to give our partner in crime, Maureen "Mo" McManus a big shout-out. Not only did ya girl launch the idea of the clean streets Oscar campaign, but she took the morning off from her city job to get out there, real down and dirty, and brought us some sweet mechanical trash pickers to boot. That's her in that nice PC hat.
When we got back to work, Zmira asked me what the coolest piece of trash was that I picked up. I told her it was a hubcap. (Rio admonished me for that because it was all sharp and jagged.) She also asked what the grossest piece of trash was. I don't feel like I can say what exactly it was here, but suffice to say it rhymes with "schmoozed flondom".
Thanks for reading about our experience working with Amos House's A Hand Up crew. Honestly, it was a really important day for us. And to be honest, we've already talked about making our volunteer shifts more of a regular thing. We'd also like to express our gratitude to Amos House for partnering with us. If you believe in their mission, please pick up an Oscar tee or sticker. You can also contribute to them directly here.