Getting Noticed for All the Right Reasons

Friday, October 19, 2012

On October 12th in Downtown Portland, the Clean and Safe District, managed by Portland Business Alliance, honored Roy Carter as Outstanding Clean & Safe Cleaner. Ralph Lawrence was announced as this year’s Outstanding Clean & Safe Security Officer. Emily Flint, General Manager of Macy's, was awarded the 2012 Downtown Retailer award, while Mayor Sam Adams was recognized as the 2012 Downtown Champion.

Roy and Mayor Sam Adams are pictured below. Roy Carter boldly demonstrates some of tasks required for his position as an employee of Central City Concern and the Downtown Clean & Safe program. He moves his arms, clasps his hands, and shifts his eyes with supreme confidence, competence, and purpose. “It’s all about what I’m doing today,” he says. “If I’m out there [on the sidewalks], I’m working hard.”

Less than a year ago, Carter found himself outside of incarceration for the first time in ten years. Society had changed drastically without him. Roy says he “promised myself to live a better way” once he got out, but “the way people looked for work and the way companies hired had changed; my past scared me away from applying for jobs.”

Roy became a regular at CCC’s Employment Access Center (EAC), where he dived into classes that helped him retool his resume, write cover letters, and sharpen his interview skills. He was then referred to CCC’s Community Volunteer Corps (CVC), volunteering 80 hours of his time at local nonprofits and building soft skills in the process. Opportunities to do positive work, Roy says, “filled me with self-worth. It felt so good.”

As a result of his exemplary work with CVC, Roy ultimately found employment with the Clean & Safe program.  For five months, Roy pushed a cleaning cart along Fifth and Sixth Avenues of Downtown Portland. He showed up on days he wasn’t scheduled to demonstrate his dedication. He showed kindness to everyone he encountered. Business owners along his streets praised Roy’s work, many saying that the streets had never been so clean.

Six months ago, Roy heard of an opportunity to apply for the Special Project Bike Operator position. Just a few months prior, he was scared away from applying to jobs because of his past; now, Roy set out to secure this position. He credits his time with EAC and CVC for giving him the confidence to acknowledge that he could, in fact, be a valuable employee. “I was able to accept who I was in the past, but also that this,” he says while pointing to his heart, “is who I am now, and this is who I want to be.”

To no one’s surprise, Roy secured the full-time position. He now looks over a much-wider section of Downtown. He is called upon to respond quickly by bike to sensitive, sometimes dangerous, issues, and has a perfect record of responding to calls in less than 30 minutes. Members of the community and business leaders commend Roy’s effectiveness, expertise and attitude.

Roy has played a significant role in increasing the visibility of the Clean & Safe program in the community, and he continues to look forward. “It makes my heart really big to have others notice what I do,” Roy says. “I spent a lot of time taking away, but now I have a chance to give back and contribute.”

Roy continues, “Others saw that I really wanted to change. They gave me a chance to change.” Now he finds purpose, confidence, and self-worth in changing his neighborhood block by block, day by day, all for the better.