While our nation has been experiencing record high unemployment levels, the Allentown Rescue Mission has been instrumental in creating local jobs and putting men in need back to work. Clean Team workers go from being recipients of services to wage-earning, tax-paying members of our community. When the Clean Team was established in 2008, workers set out to take on street cleaning in downtown Allentown. Today, the team is much more than just picking up litter. The Clean Team performs all types of temporary labor work. Clean Team members are responsible for general street cleaning and special projects on Hamilton St, Walnut, Linden St, Turner, and Tilghman between 4th and 12th Streets. The Clean Team is responsible for major clean-up projects at the Allentown Fair, Mayfair, Musikfest, and the Kutztown Folk Festival to name a few. There are Clean Team workers in food service and housekeeping at Lehigh University. The Clean Team also provides landscaping and light demolition assistance.
The Clean Team program dispels the notion that homeless people are lazy. Through decades of working with homeless and impoverished individuals in the Lehigh Valley, professionals at the Allentown Rescue Mission have found that most homeless people want to work, earn money, have a nice place to live and be self-reliant. The experienced staff at the Mission also determined that a main factor preventing most homeless people from attaining self-sufficiency is a lack of job skills and workplace skills. The Allentown Rescue Mission’s Clean Team teaches transferable workplace skills, so homeless men can be more competitive in getting a job and more productive to keep that job. Clean Team participants are homeless clients of the Allentown Rescue Mission performing real work on the streets of Allentown and its surrounding communities. The Clean Team experience combines real work and productivity with rigorous training in both workplace skills and job skills. The Clean Team offers a structured schedule and training through which participants learn how to be productive, valued employees that are held accountable for their actions. The Clean Team increases self-worth through cooperation, accomplishment and positive mentorship.