Downtown Street Ambassadors comes to Bakersfield

The Downtown Street Ambassadors Program is designed to beautify downtown Bakersfield while helping at-risk people, such as those who are homeless. (KBAK/KBFX file photo)

A new program is coming to Bakersfield with the goal of changing lives and changing downtown.

It's called the Downtown Street Ambassadors Program - created by a collaboration of groups, including the Downtown Business Development Corp., Bakersfield Homeless Center, Garden Pathways, The Mission at Kern County, and Keep Bakersfield Beautiful.

"Our goal is to revitalize downtown with a clean, safe, economically thriving environment, and one that's welcoming to all," said Karen Goh, the president and CEO of Garden Pathways.

The program will help beautify downtown and also revitalize at-risk individuals in the downtown area.

"There are currently in downtown many individuals who come from poverty, substance abuse, crime, or have mental health challenges, and many of them just hang out in the streets," Goh said.

The program is designed to be a transitional program. Participants will have the opportunity to gain real-world skills, build confidence, and develop experience to find long-term employment.

Some of the transitional jobs in the program include landscaping, parking lot litter removal, and event clean-up services that will help create a downtown that is cleaners and safer.

At the same time, Goh said they are going to help at-risk individuals work on internal issues.

She said their strategy will be a combination of street outreach, employment preparation, mentoring, clean-ups in the area, and transformative education.

The program is planning to launch in March.

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