From left, Reagan Mead, Brianna Kelly and Ron Breitbach walk up Lincoln Street, an area cleanup crews focused on, during a cleanup of central Port Angeles on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

From left, Reagan Mead, Brianna Kelly and Ron Breitbach walk up Lincoln Street, an area cleanup crews focused on, during a cleanup of central Port Angeles on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

‘Eager to give back’: People take to streets for cleanup in Port Angeles

Some participants are recovering addicts; event spurred by child being poked by needle

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.

Brandon Haynes looks for trash at Veterans Memorial Park during a cleanup on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Brandon Haynes looks for trash at Veterans Memorial Park during a cleanup on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

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.

Roger Bogers carries trash out of a ravine near Lincoln Street in Port Angeles on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Roger Bogers carries trash out of a ravine near Lincoln Street in Port Angeles on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

“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.”

Reagan Mead, who organized a cleanup of central Port Angeles, holds up a pill bottle that she found while cleaning near Lincoln Street on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Reagan Mead, who organized a cleanup of central Port Angeles, holds up a pill bottle that she found while cleaning near Lincoln Street on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

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.

Brianna Kelly holds a needle that was found just off of Lincoln Street in Port Angeles on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Brianna Kelly holds a needle that was found just off of Lincoln Street in Port Angeles on Sunday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

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].

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