John Casali deserves our thanks and support

To the Editor:

This letter is being written to give my opinion of John Casali and the Eel River Clean-up Program. I have lived in this community for around three years and have had the experience of working with John many times cleaning up the woods and river bar and have seen first hand that there is a non-stop build-up of litter.

I have voiced my opinion before to critics of John’s program (though never before in the newspaper) and they have agreed with the fact that the trash issue is real and that if there was no Eel River Clean-up Program, the woods and river bar would be a landfill.

Though they agree with this fact to my face, John has been constantly criticized and accused publicly in newspaper articles and radio broadcasts of "harassing the homeless" and "stealing survival gear" even though in all my experiences with him I have never seen one incident involving harassment or theft of valuables or obvious survival gear by John. He has also been accused of having hatred for "homeless" people, when what he hates is the litter build up. His contribution to the community is worthy of recognition and appreciation.

The Eel River Clean-up Program serves the purpose of removing the buildup of trash in the local area and provides homeless people and travelers with a way to earn some money when they need it most. I personally feel that it is a needed program and that John is doing a great service to the community by coordinating it. He instructs the people that he hires to not take survival gear and pays them fairly for the work they do.

Personally, I feel that it’s a welcome alternative to allowing our woods and river bar to be ruined by discarded waste and I’m thankful to John for allowing me to participate when I have and for the work when I’ve needed it.

There have been many concerns about the homeless and traveling population that use the outdoors as camping space; health, safety and sanitation have been brought up over and over again. The Eel River Clean-up Program is a great way to not only take care of the litter build-up and keep our outdoors clean, but also serves as an outreach to some who may need help or attention more than others. John has been an important part of the solution, and in my opinion he deserves our thanks and support.

Derek Johnnie