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Vulnerable people volunteer to clean Sudbury’s downtown

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A clean up program in downtown Sudbury has been running for two years now. It offers an honorarium for people to volunteer to spend two hours Monday to Friday cleaning up garbage.

Jason McMahon coordinates the Downtown Clean Up Program. Two years ago he was homeless, living in a tent in Memorial Park and made some cash picking up garbage with this program – now he is no longer homeless and is employed by the Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area (DSBIA).

"People show up looking for a couple hours of work I guess so they can have a better day ahead of them I guess instead of panhandling and begging for money and stuff like that,” said McMahon.

“So it gives them an option to help tidy up the city."

Volunteer participants are paid a $10 an hour honorarium for their volunteer work cleaning up for two hours each day.

The DSBIA and the local YMCA partner to run the program.

"We were hoping to kind of bridge the stigma gap between our business community and our vulnerable population,” said Kyle Marcus, the managing director of Downtown Sudbury.

“We wanted to give you know somebody who might need it a better place to be during to day or least during the morning a means to feel proud of themselves to be part of something that is for the greater good and to make a little bit of money at the same time."

Officials said the program can help people take steps to more stable employment.

"They can definitely get the opportunity to learn volunteerism,” said Kendra MacIsaac, the vice president of health and wellness at the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario.

“They can use it as experience if they do want to do on and look for employment. We can make the connection for them through our own YMCA employment services where we can help them if they are ready to take that next step and look for actual employment."

The program operates year round and is funded by the DSBIA’s membership and donations.

For more information on DSBIA programs, visit their Facebook page.

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