PORT ANGELES — About 20 people, many of whom are recovering addicts, took to the streets Sunday to cleanup garbage and drug paraphernalia littered throughout central Port Angeles.
Reagan Mead organized the cleanup in response to a child being poked by a needle at the Dream Playground in May. Then, in the days leading up to the cleanup, another child was poked at Hollywood Beach.
“It made me sick to my stomach to even hear that and I had to take some kind of action,” said Mead, who has two young children. “There’s people who talk about it on social media and how big of a problem it is, and I think more action needs to be taken.”
Volunteers met up at the Clallam County Courthouse and cleaned up areas in central Port Angeles. Some of the areas volunteers cleaned were the Veterans Memorial Park, Peabody Creek, areas along Lincoln Street and downtown areas.
Pam Lindquist, candidate for Clallam County District Court judge, also participated in the cleanup.
In just a couple of hours the volunteers pulled enough trash to fill about 15 50-gallon bags. They found countless needle caps discarded in grassy areas at the edge of parking lots and in ravines, but only found five discarded syringes during the two-hour cleanup.
Mead said most of those who participated in the cleanup are in recovery, including herself. For them the cleanup was giving back to the community that they hurt during their addiction, she said.
“I know after talking to a lot of people, they’re just eager to give back,” she said. “We weren’t doing anything but trashing the community before we got into recovery.
“Service work is a huge part of recovery. It’s what keeps people clean.”
It’s such a big part of recovery that Drug Court Coordinator Johnny Watts attended the cleanup and drug court participants were allowed to count the cleanup as one of their required meetings.
Watts said announcements had been made throughout the past couple of weeks about the cleanup, which he called a “good community restitution event.”
“For people in recovery, it’s an exercise in community restitution,” he said.
“I’d like to see it happen regularly, to be honest with you.”
He said there likely would have been more people at the cleanup had there not been an area Narcotics Anonymous meeting at the same time.
Watts said the cleanup was not a drug court event, but he has talked with officials with other drug courts that do host similar events.
“We’re talking about implementing something like that,” he said.
He said he would like to see a monthly event, but said there are concerns about liability and just how drug court could pull it off.
Mead also wants to organize other cleanups in the future and she hopes they become a regular event, she said.
She said part of her goal is to raise awareness about the issue and make people aware of how much garbage and drug paraphernalia is littered throughout town.
Mead said a number of local businesses and individuals donated supplies and refreshments for the cleanup, including Port Angeles Hardwood, Klallam Counseling, New Day Eatery, Safeway, Swain’s General Store, Tambria Cox and Ron Breitbach.
“Just because it’s not your personal mess doesn’t mean you can’t take responsibility for it,” Mead said. “It’s your town regardless of who left it there.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].