Cleaning Up On Purpose

A sense of pride and purpose is what most people seek in life and the young men and women who work on the Barlow Center’s Clean Team are no exception. The Clean Team, a janitorial work crew that works both on campus and in the community, was established in the year 2000 when the Department of Developmental Services stopped all center-based work programs leaving a gap to be filled.

“We were well ahead of the curve with this,” Program Director of the Barlow Center Linda Alger said. “We created vocational jobs asDay2on campus {prior to center based work being stopped for good}. This is how the Clean Team was born.”

This allowed the residents of Barlow as well as several of the day students to have a purpose in their days.

“You should see them when they get their first paycheck,” Linda said. “You cannot imagine the pride on their faces. We take pictures of each member of the team with their first paycheck and hang them in the training center. They are so happy!”

When the Clean Team was first established it was seven members strong. Today, there are two teams – Clean Team 1 and Clean Team 2 – and both can employee as many as 8 members per day. Clean Team one is responsible for cleaning campus buildings. This involves cleaning the Barlow common areas, and Curtis Hall. Clean Team two works in the community.

One of the local clients, Dunn and Company, has employed the Clean Team for over a decade. Dave Dunn of Dunn and Company said, “The Clean Team does not work for us, but rather with us. There is a big difference. We are pleased with the hard work and dedication of this crew, but more importantly, they have become a part of our company family. It has made a world of difference to our employees to work hand in hand with the team. We have all learned that we have our own challenges and we are all different – thank God, but at the end of the day, these are the people that keep our {work} place looking good, and everyone wants to know how they can help each other. There is love in here.”

“We used to work with them full time, but since they have downsized we have gone to two days a week,” Linda said. “We also do a lot of in-kind work and fun competitions like cook-offs with employees from Dunn.”

The Clean Team enjoy ordering out for lunch on payday – a treat for anyone with a brand new paycheck.

According to Linda, the team is continuing to expand into the community.  “We recently received word that we will get the job at the new Clinton Senior Center,” she said. “The team takes great pride in their work and has a good reputation. They are proud to be contributing members of the community they live in.” Linda goes on to note that their work ethic far outweighs any disability. “They may have developmental disabilities, but if I needed industrial cleaning done, I would hire them in a second.”

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.