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Ambassadors with members of the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DIA News.
Ambassadors with members of the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DIA News.

Philadelphia Department of Commerce honors its Taking Care of Business Cleaning Ambassadors

The program funds community-based organizations working to rid the neighborhood commercial corridors of litter.

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On Tuesday, July 18, the Department of Commerce held an event at City Hall to honor its Taking Care of Business (TCB) Clean Corridor Cleaning Ambassadors.

Since the program’s launch five years ago, the PHL TCB Clean Corridors program has aimed to create employment opportunities for residents while keeping Philadelphia’s neighborhood corridors clean.

The TCB Clean Ambassadors are critical in preventing litter from entering waterways, supporting air quality in neighborhood commercial corridors, and enhancing economic revitalization efforts. 

Salim Wilson, senior director of the Department of Commerce, said that the Ambassadors serve as a core component of the Department, the City, and turning its mission into a reality. 

“You guys create a clean space for not only businesses to operate, but communities to shop,” said Wilson. 

Salim Wilson, senior director of the Department of Commerce. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Salim Wilson, senior director of the Department of Commerce. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

More than 200 Cleaning Ambassadors are employed across 85 commercial corridors throughout the city; about 160 of which have completed an Online CareerSafe OSHA 10 certification and about 67 have completed Mental Health First Aid training.

The latter training is provided by the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services. 

“The training is basically around giving people the necessary skills to be able to help someone who may be dealing with a mental health problem or crisis, kind of like regular first aid,” said Malik Gray, who works for DBHIDS. 

“The men and women who have gone through this program have put those skills to be able to assist anyone that they may come in contact with,” he added. 

Malik Gray of the DBHIDS. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Malik Gray of the DBHIDS. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Last year alone, the Ambassadors collected over 152,760 bags of trash, equivalent to 12,740 dumpsters worth.

“That work you're doing in those communities is making people really recognize the beauty of their communities,” Gray said. 

The program was initially created by former City Councilmember and current mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker. 

Her replacement as councilmember for the 9th District, Councilman Anthony Phillips, harkens back to Parker's two primary goals when she first introduced the program. 

“One, people living in decency the same way people do in the suburbs,” he said. “She thought about the idea that it's incredibly important that no matter what ZIP code you live in, you should feel good about where you live.”

“And number two, she wanted to make sure that anybody who did honorable work for the City of Philadelphia, received a decent wage and was recognized for all the work that you're doing,” Councilman Phillips added.

Councilman Anthony Phillips. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Councilman Anthony Phillips. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

During the event at City Hall, 22 TBC Clean Corridor Cleaning Ambassadors were honored for their years of service. Each honoree has served at least five years, with the most senior honoree having served 30 years to his community.

The honorees represent various organizations across the city, including ACANA, Frankford CDC, HACE, Impact Services Corp., Nueva Esperanza, The Enterprise Center, and many others. 

Commerce Director Anne Nadol described all the ambassadors as “champions for litter reduction and environmental care for commercial corridors city-wide.”

“Your tremendous efforts as frontline workers demonstrates the city's commitment to the quality of life in each neighborhood commercial corridor,” she added. 

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