, Gloucester, MA

August 15, 2013

Letter: Column an insult to YMCA Clean Team

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

In response to the column regarding the Cape Ann YMCA Clean Team (Fishtown Local, the Times, Monday, Aug. 12), it’s clear that Mr. Baird does not quite have his facts right.

I am a member of Clean Team and one of the captains, and after reading Mr. Baird’s column, I was not only offended, but every member of Clean Team was offended. Although we appreciate Mr. Baird’s concern and understand that, if what he was saying was true we would have a problem, but he is not correct on most accounts.

The residents of Gloucester aren’t entirely aware of what the Clean Team actually does on a daily basis.

Yes, we clean up trash and that is part of our job, but it is not the entire thing. Since we are funded by a government grant, we have to do what we are told by the city. We clean up trash, weed, and are responsible for watering and maintaining the $4,000 worth of plants hanging on Main Street and the Boulevard.

Often we get requests from higher authority, such as the mayor’s office, to complete special tasks, so we can’t constantly be attending to the trash on our streets.

Our job is based in the community, so our entire time on the job is spent in the public’s eye. This causes problems for us, because people see every aspect and minute of our daily activity including breaks and travel.

These are the times that we are most exposed to public scrutiny. We may be working hard for two hours and stop to take a five-minute break — and that is when people think that we are slacking and not doing our job. Also, people may see us walking to a destination assigned to us and take that as neglecting the trash on the streets. I am sure that, if a business office was set up openly in the middle of the community, people would find and nit-pick all the negative things they see happening.

Regarding the statements made about how Clean Team is not what it was when it was started, Mr. Baird is right — but we do not get anywhere close to four times the funding, we get a little over double.

We also employ close to five times the kids that they did when Clean Team started, so we respectively get less money because Clean Team is such a larger operation now. That is because we aim to employ as many kids as we can to give the youth of our community jobs in a time when jobs are hard to come by.

Clean Team is also not run by a man, as Mr. Baird stated, but a woman and the best boss I have had the pleasure of working under. She has so much on her plate, yet still makes time for us when she could just pawn the job onto someone else. She does it because she cares about the kids more than anything and wants to help out all that she can.

The column Mr. Baird wrote is insulting, I’m sure, to her because she puts so much time and effort into the Clean Team. Without her it would not exist, because every year it is a fight to get funding for such a project.

Yes, there is trash on the streets — but there will always be trash on the streets because people don’t respect their community.

We could clean a street one day and the next day there would be more trash out there to clean. We do the best that we can with the time and the resources we have.

Every day, we have people coming up to us and saying how well of a job we are doing. But the people that don’t like what we are doing, or catch us at a bad time, are always going to be the ones that call or write in to complain.

I am sorry for the way Mr. Baird feels, and I appreciate his concern. But on behalf of the Clean Team, people need to understand how we truly operate, and not just take the opinion of a misinformed citizen.