A partnership between a Westchester nonprofit organization and WIN Waste Innovations that assists people with developmental disabilities is not only beautifying downtown Peekskill but program critical skills to an important population.
Community Based Services, which operates a job skills development program for those with disabilities throughout the county, is providing manpower to pick up trash two or three days a week for roughly 35 weeks a year. Generally, they take the winter off and return in the spring.
About 65 people participate in Community Based Services’ job training in the Peekskill area, with four to eight of them rotated as part of the Downtown Street Cleaning Program, said Joe Conti, job developer for the North Salem-based nonprofit.
“The support provided by WIN Waste is giving the individuals that we serve an opportunity to get on-the-job training out in the community and it gets them highly visible, and I think the community residents that are here appreciate what they’re seeing, and it really is giving them a great opportunity to learn skills needed to put on a resume to actually go find a job,” Conti said.
The area served by the street cleaning program encompasses the Peekskill Business Improvement District’s (BID) Central Commercial District, a 25-block area in the heart of the city’s downtown. For Mayor Vivian McKenzie, it’s the best of all worlds – assisting a population in the community with residents who complete an important task for the city.
McKenzie said that the community is fortunate to have both WIN Waste and an organization that helps the disabled population realize their potential.
“The cleanup program that we have within the city really, really works well and it benefits both the city and to have WIN Waste here and doing programs like this are partnerships that you need to run a city well,” McKenzie said.
The street cleaning effort started in 2017, when WIN Waste was still called Wheelabrator Technologies. It was a program that the rebranded company wanted to maintain despite the reconfiguration of the outfit because it had seen the benefits it provided, said plant manager David Schepperly.
Schepperly said he wants the company to start keeping track of how much garbage is picked up through the program. There are likely hundreds of pounds of refuse that get picked up each year, he said.
The benefit for the city, along with a cleaner downtown, is the trash-to-energy component that WIN Waste uses helps provide power to local residents.
“They’re giving people with disabilities some life skills to train them, so and in the end, the waste that they collect, they bring it here and that produces renewable energy, which helps divert waste from landfills, reduce the need for large tractor-trailers and also fossil fuels,” he said. “Because in the end, the power that’s going to the homes in Peekskill is generated in Peekskill.”
Rosa, whose last name was withheld by Community Based Services, said she enjoys participating in the program and receiving the appreciation from those in the city.
What she has learned about sustainability and garbage cleanup is inspiring her to talk to children and teenagers about how to be more sustainable.
“I would like to do work in a day care center and teach little kids and teenagers, the next generations, not to litter and to, instead, love the Earth,” Rosa said.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/