Armed with garbage bags and a love for his hometown of Parksville, Jayson Perry set out on a mission Friday. Waving at traffic and getting a few honks in return, he picked up litter on the roadside of busy Highway 19.
“I have time right now, because my shop shut down and I feel free doing this and it’s creating energy and it’s a good thing,” Perry, told CHEK News on Friday.
According to the 40-year-old, this isn’t only about volunteering, he also wants to change attitudes towards homeless people as drivers see him grappling over embankments, getting his hands dirty, and doing hard work.
“I’m doing quite a bit of distance. Like I look back and I’m like, ‘Wow I’ve done this road, that road’,” said Perry.
The Parksville man is homeless and said he’s found a new sense of purpose as a one man clean up crew on the highway in and out of Parksville, as he tries to get back on track from losing everything during the pandemic.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover because you open up the book and it’s completely different,” said Perry, who is a skilled tradesman and owned his own business until a few years ago.
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“I’m a cabinet maker by trade and I don’t know, running the company just wasn’t happening, the whole COVID thing, and it all just went downhill,” he said.
Then, four months ago, he started picking litter, and he said it soon turned into an everyday job.
But even out on the highway, Perry said he has struggled. According to the Parksville man, someone stole his bike after he’d parked it along the highway as a marker to return to.
“I set it down on the side of the highway as a marker and I started walking, throwing things out of the ditch and I was like, ‘Whoa how far did I go?’ I was like, where did it go? I didn’t see any vehicle on that one and it was gone,” he said.
But after losing so much already, Perry said he’s not letting the setback get him down. With kilometres of highway still laying out before him, and the journey to rebuild his life, ahead.