Keeping the Downtown Clean

Ability Learning Center

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ROCHESTER, MN — It is not always easy for city leaders to keep their towns clean of garbage, but one area city is getting a little bit of help.

Ability Building Center (ABC) was started in the 1950s to help those with disabilities find work in the community.

“We do a lot of janitorial work, a lot of restaurant work, a lot of maid service,” said ABC Business Developer Doug Schommer.

Not long ago they added another job to that list. The Rochester Downtown Alliance contacted Schommer to see if they wanted to help clean up the downtown.

“They were looking for an opportunity to be able to make Rochester look a little nicer. Clean up the area around the Peace Plaza and downtown here,” Schommer said.

Even though it has only been a few short weeks since they began this project, people are beginning to take notice.

“Our folks are wearing the orange ABC t-shirts so they’re being recognized that they’re out here and we are starting to hear some good comments,” Schommer said.

People will notice them making Rochester shine on Mondays and Fridays. They start by the Holiday Inn around 9 a.m. and wrap up around 1:30 p.m.

“Anything that’s left behind we get it cleaned up right away Friday before the lunch crowd starts in so that the city looks good for anybody visiting or happens to be out here in Rochester walking around,” said Vaughn Hanson, the Job Coach Supervisor for ABC.

It also provides something positive for those put in charge of clean up.

“It gives them an opportunity to get out and be in the community, for us to be seen in the community and it gives them a chance to develop job skills, to earn some money and to learn some tricks or things they may not have known before. It’s just great to watch them develop as they work to keep this city clean and become more efficient,” Hanson said.

For Hanson, the whole experience has not even felt like work.

“These guys are a lot of fun to work with, there’s no bad attitudes, it never seems like a down day. It’s almost a game; it’s just a lot of fun working every day with them,” Hanson said.

Jon Eckhoff of the Rochester Downtown Alliance said this is a great partnership that they were able to form and a great way to keep the downtown clean.

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