On July 27, 2021, Central City Concern and Downtown Clean & Safe honored four Clean Start trainees at the 12th annual Clean & Safe appreciation day. We’re thrilled to celebrate Anthony Hurt, Carol Shriki, Matt Johnson, and Dameion Phillips as the 2020/2021 Cleaners of the Year.
Clean Start is a homeless-to-work program operated by CCC that provides cleaning and maintenance throughout the Portland metro area. During the span of six months, Clean Start participants receive job training and peer mentorship while removing graffiti, trash, needles and biohazards. CCC partners with Downtown Clean & Safe to fill cleaning requests in the downtown core. In 2020, Clean Start crews removed 3.9 million pounds of trash and 242,741 needles across the city.
Meet the 2020/2021 Cleaners of the Year
The tragic death of his two-year old daughter sent Anthony into a deep depression. He became addicted to painkillers and heroin. He soon lost his job, was kicked out of his apartment and shunned by his family. With nowhere to go, he found himself living on the street.
Through the help of his aunt and kind strangers, Anthony eventually made his way into treatment at our Hooper Detoxification Stabilization Center. After graduating from CCC’s Community Volunteer Corps, he became a Clean Start trainee. Now he trains new Clean Start participants in graffiti removal and sidewalk cleaning.
On any given day, you can find Anthony biking all over downtown Portland responding to calls. He says that one of the most rewarding aspects of his job is getting needles off the streets.
Carol was living and working in Clackamas with her son — and doing just fine — until she lost her job. She couldn’t pay her rent, so she lost her home. As a result, her son was taken by Child Protective Services. She lived outside under the Burnside Bridge for six years, relying on drugs to stay awake and warm.
Determined to put homelessness and addiction behind her, Carol entered treatment and turned to Central City Concern for supportive housing and employment assistance. In CCC’s Employment Recovery Program, she was connected to CCC’s Clean Start training program, and she was soon hired permanently by Downtown Clean & Safe.
Carol’s favorite part of the job is being a role model for the people she used to know on the street. She hopes someday they will think of her and get into treatment.
Matt was a star basketball player in high school, which earned him a college scholarship. But an injury introduced him to pain pills and he quickly fell into drug dependency. Matt ended up homeless in Portland for more than five years until he became involved with the criminal justice system. But in 2018, he entered CCC’s Housing Rapid Response program where he found treatment, housing and hope for his future.
After completing CCC’s Community Volunteer Corps program, Matt began training with Clean Start. He now drives a dump truck for Downtown Clean & Safe and says his favorite part of the job is giving back to the community and making a difference.
Dameion joined Clean Start in 2019 after a friend told him about the program. At the time, he was facing drug charges and had just completed addiction treatment. The day before his settlement conference, the judge saw him cleaning outside the courthouse and was impressed that he was working and making a difference. Dameion was able to stay out of jail and is now off probation.
After six months as a trainee, Dameion made a positive impression and was offered a permanent position with Downtown Clean & Safe. His favorite part of the job is the camaraderie he’s formed with other crew members – they look out for each other like family. He also shares his own story of homelessness and addiction so he can give people hope and show them that things truly can get better.