Homeless and housed community members clean up Auburn site | TheUnion.com

Homeless and housed community members clean up Auburn site

Jennifer Montgomery, Veronica Blake, Jim Holmes, and Andy Wright pose for a picture at the cleanup site.
Submitted photo |

More than 100 volunteers, most of them homeless, met Saturday morning to clean up 13 acres behind the Target store in Auburn. The event began at 9 a.m. and ended with an unsolicited hamburger barbecue donation for lunch. Over six dumpsters were filled.

Two Placer County Supervisors and the Auburn mayor participated. Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, a participant, described the effort as having two purposes: “To clean up a mess, and to demonstrate that the homeless are caring members of the community.”

Event organizers Gregg Cirillo and Gary Mapa said they see the cleanup as the beginning of many such events and a blueprint for other counties to follow as a regional effort. Mapa also leads a crew of homeless individuals monthly under the Adopt-A-Highway program to pick up trash along a section of Interstate 80. He has always had more volunteers than he can accept, he said.

Jim Holmes, a Placer County Supervisor and a lifetime resident of North Auburn, participated in the cleanup. Holmes also serves on the boards of The Salvation Army and The Gathering Inn, an overnight and support collaboration of churches for the homeless. Holmes said he is seriously concerned about the effect of homelessness on his community, and supports long-term regional solutions. His advice to other counties is “to be cautious and don’t build a homeless shelter without a rehabilitation plan.”

Montgomery agrees that “this is a regional problem” and that supervisors and cities in neighboring counties need to work together.

Placer County Supervisors contracted with Robert Marbut to assess their homelessness problem and make recommendations; a new 24-7 rehabilitation homeless shelter in the DeWitt Center of North Auburn was approved largely as a result of his recommendations.

Leslie Mapa, a volunteer with the Auburn Area Homeless Forum, described the event as “a pleasure, and that helping out in the community really gave the homeless a sense of purpose and contribution.”

Auburn “homeward bound” resident Paul Payton added, “It is a good way to give back to the community.”

Interested parties are welcome to contact Gary Mapa at gmapa@reatta.com.

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