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UCLA Magazine Summer 2004
Of God and Blue-Footed Boobies
The Providential Scholar
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Summer 2004 Bruin Walk


Later, litter

Keeping UCLA Clean
Photography Courtesy of Reed Hutchinson '71,
UCLA Photographic Services

Keeping UCLA clean (from left):
Douglas Doerr, Gina Williams and Ivan Estrada

"There's another one!" Gina Williams hustles toward a cigarette butt on the ground behind the medical center. With steely determination, she grabs the stubbed-out end with the pincers of a metallic litter stick and holds it up briefly for inspection before dropping it in a plastic trash bag that she grasps in her left hand. A smile spreads over her face.

"I like to make this place so nice, so neat and soooooo pretty," says Williams, 42.

Williams is among the nearly three-dozen developmentally disabled people who pick up litter on campus each day. Wearing bright blue T-shirts with "UCLA Facilities Management" on the back, these workers fan out each morning across the campus's 419 acres, scooping up gum wrappers, soda cups and scraps of paper carelessly tossed on the ground.

"I think they're great. They're here every day, and they always have a smile on their faces," says Alesia Wilson, a surgery coordinator.

Members of the litter squad come to UCLA through contracts with two private agencies — Social Vocational Services in Torrance and Milestones Behavioral Treatment Program in Los Angeles — and earn up to $6.75 an hour. Ivan Estrada, 31, is saving up for a trip to El Salvador, where he was born. He also likes to buy CDs — he's a huge fan of Ozzy Osbourne. "I'm actually wearing an Ozzy Osbourne T-shirt under this," he confides, tugging at his blue UCLA shirt.

Like any workplace, there are rules, like having to keep the chatter down. But that's OK with Ronnie Thomas, 31. "I'm here to work. I'm not here to socialize," he says, aiming his litter stick at a candy wrapper.



2005 The Regents of the University of California