Since its conception seven years ago, the Tucson Homeless Work Program (HWP) has helped more than 2,500 people earn money and get them back on their feet.

The Old Pueblo Community Services (OPCS) program spearheaded by Ward 5 Councilman Richard Fimbres pays participants experiencing homelessness for picking up trash around the city.

We pick up just bag after bag after bag of debris thats been blown around the area, said Supervisor Dezeri Marsh.

On average, they clean up about a thousand pounds of trash every day five teams go out to dozens of garbage hot spots five days per week.

Theres obviously no shortage of areas that need help in town,” Marsh said. “Whether its an abandoned camp or an illegal dumping, we try to be there and help everywhere we can.

Marsh will be three years sober next month. She was homeless for eight years and found her OPCS job, the first one where she felt comfortable.

Its incredible. Ive gotten my life back and Im hoping to give that back to the people Im with every day.

What started as one truck and one driver in 2017 grew to five drivers, five vans and three trailers with more coming soon.

Program spots are limited, making them highly sought after within the local shelters.

Tuesday marked Kerri Schramek’s second time out with HWP. She’s recently disabled and stays at Sister Jos’s Women’s Center.

Schramek said she’s lucky to have nabbed one of the spots.

It helps give them a sense of purpose. It makes them feel like theyre doing something positive,” she explained. “(The supervisors) dont look at you as homeless. They look at you as just a peer-type of thing. Its really nice. Its refreshing.

The team will even hire on-site if they don’t have a full crew. Tuesday was one of those days.

A gentleman doesnt speak any English, had no clue what was about to happen and it just made his day,” Marsh said during an interview with KGUN 9. “Hes out here cleaning up with us right now, hes getting enrolled in services.

It’s not just about the money.

Twenty percent of program participants found permanent housing, some telling employees like Driver Todd Parke it’s improving their social skills.

Well get a lot of people that say that its building their self-esteem. We just tell them, ‘Do what you can’ and thats what we expect,” Parke said.

“As long as theyre happy when they go home, saying they think theyve done a good job, then were pretty much happy.

An OPCS ceremony on Thursday at 2323 S. Park Ave will recognize the progress made over the last seven years and honor the supporters of the work program. The event starts at 4:30 p.m.