MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Eight giant bags full of trash and a handful of spare tires. That’s how much one man picked up in his Frayser neighborhood.
“Don’t got any gloves on, but that’s okay. I’ve got hand sanitizer,” said Keith Dunning as he and his wife reached for some trash outside his home. “We were driving home, I saw three elderly women picking up stuff. I hollered out my car door, my windows don’t work, I hollered out, ‘Hey! Don’t do that! I’m going to get some bags,'” said Dunning.
The pair started picking up piles of trash near Overton Crossing and Church Point.
Up until 2018, Dunning was with Lifeline to Success, a program helping ex-felons become productive citizens. He was part of their Blight Patrol.
“One thing about Lifeline to Success is that we teach men and women to give a damn,” said Deandre Brown, who heads the program. He said the city contracted the Blight Patrol to help with weed remediation and blight. They worked in Dunning’s neighborhood until the contract expired in January. “The contract is in the process of being renegotiated,” he said. “Hopefully, we can be working again in the next couple of weeks.”
The mayor’s staff said something similar. They released a statement saying, they’re “currently working with Lifeline to find a way to fund year-round work.” They also mentioned the City Council gave the group a grant.
City officials asked Dunning to give them a list of problems, and said they would tour the area Wednesday. Dunning said he’s looking forward to that, and will keep working to fix up his neighborhood. “You’ve got people like me who care about the city, and we’re not going to do away. We’re here to see a change.”