Medford resident starts business to help clean after homeless

MEDFORD, Ore.– A long-time Medford resident is helping clean up for local businesses.

The plan came together for the man after he started seeing the messes left around downtown Medford, sometimes by people living on the street.

Michael Cooper started Stand On Your Ground Community Cleaning nine months ago to help pick up trash and other waste left behind by the homeless.

He said he now works with 25 businesses downtown on a weekly basis.

Cooper said, “I usually get two or three calls a week for new businesses.”

Cooper has been living in Medford since the late 70’s.

He said he’s seen the homeless problem get worse over time and that inspired him to take action.

“We try to keep the businesses clean, pick up for vandalism,” Cooper said, “a lot of broken glass and needles and a lot of dirty clothes and a lot of poop and urine and every day, it’s a different day, you never know what you’re going to come into.”

Cooper works with businesses like the Southern Oregon Historical Society, the Arts Center and the Medford Senior Center among others.

He said businesses have seen some unique things, like people camping on rooftops recently and he’s there to help as much as possible.

“We’re there to help. We work with the homeless,” Cooper said, “we try to ask them ‘do you need help? Are you ok?’ in the morning. It’s been cold out. ‘do you need anything?’ A lot of times I’ll ask them ‘do you want to go somewhere?”

Cooper hopes to partner with more businesses in the future and perhaps bring on new employees if it keeps growing.

He said he wants other cities to have similar programs to keep the streets clean.

“I think the model that we’re trying to do here is a model that could be used in other cities and I think it would be a good idea if a city like Grants Pass or Ashland needed help,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he’s willing to help any entrepreneurs start similar businesses in other cities.

He said he just wants to help his community as much as possible.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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