Temple University, recovery program team up on street cleaning

Three days each week, Bill Williams, left, and the crew from One Day at a Time clean up the community near Temple.

Three days each week, Bill Williams, left, and the crew from One Day at a Time clean up the community near Temple. (Betsy Manning)

A 10-member crew picking up garbage and sweeping up around Temple University in Philadelphia is also working on staying clean from drugs and alcohol. They’re in recovery as part of the One Day At A Time program.

Temple recently contracted with the organization specializing in drug and alcohol recovery programs to provide the cleanup service three days a week.

Bill Williams, who grew up in the neighborhoods near Temple, has struggled with cocaine addiction. He’s been in recovery for six months and on the Temple cleanup crew for the past few weeks.

He’s been cleaning up the same streets where he used to use drugs, often passing people who knew him from those days.

“You’re out there interacting with the community, the community is interacting with you,” he said. “Seeing a lot of people who’ve seen me at the worst of my dilemma, and they can say they’ve seen the change and the improvement in me, in all my actions.”  

Temple was looking to make an impact on North Philly in partnership with neighborhood residents, said university spokesman Bill Bergman.

“One thing is neighbors get the distinct impression that people care and are trying to make the place better. No. 2, they see them working, and they know they’re making it better,” Bergman said. “And, No. 3, One Day at a Time has people who live and were raised in this area.”

The university is considering making the cleaning crew permanent.

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