New contract allows for larger 'Clean Team' in Allentown

Posted: 7:00 PM EST Jan 13, 2013   Updated: 6:39 AM EST Jan 15, 2013

Workers at the Allentown Rescue Mission have gone from homeless to helpful. The men help pick up trash, and now the city has signed a new contract that expands their turf.

All you have to do is look for the blue jackets and you will find the men helping keep the streets of Allentown clean. It is the "Clean Team."

"It allows formerly homeless men to get a job, learn some workplace skills and then get back out into the community," said Michael Mauro, who works on the Clean Team resource development for the Allentown Rescue Mission.

The Allentown Rescue Mission formed the Clean Team in 2008.

"I'm really grateful for the opportunity itself," said worker Michael Franko.

Now the crew is growing from four to seven thanks to a new $67,978 contract with the city of Allentown.

The team will be responsible for cleaning the areas from Tilghman to Linden streets between Fourth and 12th streets.

Franko entered the program after having no place to live once he moved here from Las Vegas. He's thankful for the chance to clean up the city.

"They know exactly what we are doing out here," said Franko. "They see us out with the trash cans and blue coats picking up."

Workers said picking up the trash helps them clean up Allentown and the Clean Team program is helping workers clean up their lives.

"It's put things in perspective," said Franko. "What's more important, what's really important in life instead of the things that we perceive as being important before something does happen."

The workers get paid minimum wage, and the money is held in an account by the rescue mission until the men find a job and a place to live.