Program offers new 'green' opportunities

April 10, 2009 (CHICAGO) Through a program called CleanSlate, participants are recycling discarded glass and plastic and also getting a second chance themselves.

If you were greeted at work with a song and cheers, you might be motivated to do your best. Motivation is the key to success for a group of CleanSlate 'interns.'

"We all have a second chance at life," said lead intern Shevonne Allen.

CleanSlate is part of the CARA program, a social organization that helps those with challenges in their background like non-violent convictions, substance abuse or spotty work experience.

"I made some very bad decisions in my life along the way, shortly after college, which caused me to have a conviction on my record, and I had trouble finding job placement," Allen said.

CleanSlate offers job training, job placement and life skills. On work days, some interns remain at the hub to search for jobs or take classes, while others hit the streets.

"The scope of the services of CleanSlate is landscaping, snow removal and litter abatement, and the litter abatement consists of picking up trash in neighborhoods, cleaning out abandoned buildings, recycling materials," said CleanSlate Managing Director John Rush.

Interns fan out to neighborhoods spanning from Uptown to Roseland, including the State Street corridor. They are recycling all the way.

"We make sure we make that extra effort to go green basically," said Allen. "We bring in approximately 60 blue bags of recyclables. On Mondays, we might double that. You think, 120 bags of recyclables that would've normally gone to the trash."

Organizers believe their efforts are making as much of a difference on the interns as on the communities they serve.

"It teaches that we're not just concerned about our individual lives. We're not just concerned about our communities. We're concerned about our global environment," Rush said.

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