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VOICE OF THE TOWNSHIP: THE GREAT AMERICAN CLEANUP

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RICHARD A STEVENSONAt the Wayne Township Trustee's Office, we understand our role to include being an integral part of our community and making our Township an even better place for all of us to live, work and play. This means that we must go well beyond our traditional role of providing Township Assistance to those in need and look to ways we can help our neighborhoods.

One of the ways Wayne Township has chosen to help is by participating in the Great American Cleanup. About 30 Wayne Township volunteers joined the over 4,000 people from more than 200 groups who worked to clean up our city on May 19. We partnered with two neighborhood associations, Bloomingdale and Oxford, to assist them with their cleanup projects.

In the Oxford neighborhood, our volunteers focused on some abandoned properties. At one property, the workers waded through high weeds in the backyard and removed a large amount of debris. There was so much debris that the yard could not be mowed until the debris was picked up. The Wayne Township crew put all the trash they picked up in plastic bags or piled it up and placed it in the alley for the city trucks to take away.

The Wayne Township crew at Bloomingdale also picked up trash, yard waste and junk. Robert Martin, a Wayne Township Investigator said the group at Bloomingdale worked in the alleys and found such items as housing materials, piles of cement and even an old pole. Robert said it was very nice weather for the cleanup, and everyone seemed glad to help.
Some of the Wayne Township workers at the Great American Cleanup were clients of our office. Those of you who have not been involved with Township Assistance may think it's a program that simply hands out money for those in need. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To receive Township Assistance, clients who are able to work must give back to our community by working at non-profit or government agencies. The program in which our clients work for these agencies is called Workfare. One of the ways clients can meet their Wayne Township Workfare obligation is to be involved in projects such as the Great American Cleanup. Our Workfare clients also help out at the Waynedale Picnic, which is scheduled this year for Saturday, August 25.
Last year, our clients contributed over 27,000 hours of work to non-profit or governmental agencies. Calculated at the minimum wage, the value of the time our clients gave to our community was almost $200,000. This large contribution by our clients is a huge help to the various non-profit agencies in our community. Workfare also serves to instill self-esteem in our clients, who can be proud that they are giving back for the Assistance they receive when they fall on hard times.
The way our Workfare Program operates is when a person receives Township Assistance, he or she is assigned a certain number of Workfare hours to complete. The hours a client must complete are based on the amount of assistance received. If the client does not complete the number of hours assigned, he or she is not eligible to receive further Township Assistance for 180 days. A client's Workfare requirement may be waived only under certain limited circumstances.
Besides giving back to community, our Workfare Program benefits our clients by helping them to develop or maintain their employment skills. Clients are required to be at their Workfare sites everyday, to be on time and to complete their daily shift. They learn to appropriately interact with their co-workers, and do the work assigned to them. In other words, they are experiencing what most of us experience on a daily basis in our jobs. The Workfare Program is a win-win for everyone.

Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
www.waynetownship.org

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Richard A. Stevenson
About This Author
Wayne Township Trustee Rick Stevenson was elected Trustee in November of 2006 and took office in January of 2007. He is very passionate about helping those in need and considers it a privilege to be in a position to be able to help.
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