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Everett neighbors ‘adopt’, clean up city alleys on their own

EVERETT, Wash. — People in one Snohomish County community are taking it upon themselves to clean up the streets. And they’re teaching their kids an important lesson in what it means to be a good neighbor.

Jain McCaughan is starting a revolution among her Everett neighbors.

“If one person took one alley, this whole, entire city would be clean,” says Jain.

Two weeks ago, Jain challenged neighbors to adopt an alley near their home, posting about it on the Facebook group “Take Back Our Neighborhood North Everett," founded by Cate Harrington over two years ago.

“People focus a lot on their front yards, what’s presentable, they don’t take too much time in the alley except to bring the garbage can out there once a week. It’s a big deal because that is the invite for people to come into your backyard and break into your sheds and steal your tools, your bikes, whatever you have stored out there,” says Cate.

Mom of young twins, Alicia Cappola, accepted the challenge. It’s a big task, but she does it so her little ones can play safely.

“Just keep it clean my; kids play back here, my neighbor's kids play back here. It’s an area that the kids use, but it’s also, unfortunately, an area that people use in the nighttime to do nefarious stuff and their garbage and their drug stuff gets left behind. We have found needles in this alley before and it’s just scary,” says Alicia.

Jasmine Jones, a mother of two, just recently adopted the property surrounding a local church.

“It’s just so gross down there it’s not very shocking to me at this point, even though I haven’t done it very long. I have lived in Everett for seven years right next to the park, so I’ve dealt with it on my own,” says Jasmine.

In the last two weeks, the ladies say 20 alleys have been adopted by neighbors all over Everett. And while they hope that number will grow, they also hope their children will grow to understand the impact.

“I want them to know what to avoid, but also to know that just because this isn’t our mess doesn’t mean we don’t want to clean it up and have it be nice for everybody. It’s not about whose fault it is, it’s about doing something and taking responsibility,” says Alicia.

It’s more than just taking back Everett. This is about building a community. And these women hope their work will inspire others to do the same, no matter what city they call home.

“I’m going to go home. I’m going to take a shower. I’m going to sit down with my kids and my husband and he’s going to tell me he’s proud of me. They are going to tell me they’re proud of me,” says Jasmine.