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Norman Wiggins, Ambassador with the Town Green Special Services District

Norman Wiggins keeps New Haven clean. He was born and raised in New Haven. When I asked him if he has any plans on living elsewhere, he notes it’s “New Haven until I die.” As part of the Town Green Special Services District’s Ambassadors Team, Mr. Wiggins works 7am through 3:30pm Saturday through Wednesday. “I’ve been fighting the battle and trying to keep things clean” since starting work as an Ambassador in April 2013 after applying online for the position. Prior to this, he has worked in construction and in a liquor warehouse. He always worked hard, he notes, having worked with his father delivering supplies to New Haven’s pizza restaurants as a young person. His favorite? Pizza House on Howe Street, among others.

According to Ambassador Program Manager Tim Hamlin (photo below), there were 6 maintenance staff and two safety staff on Wednesday during the day and there is one maintenance staff member on until 6pm and 3-4 safety staff on until 9pm. Mr. Hamlin had much praise for Norman Wiggins, indicating that he keeps a positive and friendly attitude in what can be a thankless and challenging job where it’s not uncommon to see people throw trash on the ground right in front of you. Mr. Hamlin reminds new maintenance staff not to take it personally, as it represents job security.

“Bus stops are a constant battle,” notes Wiggins, “Do it, and a couple hours later it’s like it wasn’t done.” Angel Rivera (photo below), after asking me what I was doing following around Norman with a camera, noted that the shelters get messy in the morning due to the homeless people who use them for “shelter against the rain, wind and cold.” He knows this because he has used them for just this purpose. He explains that the homeless shelter has a 90 day on, 90 day off policy and he just got back into the Grand Ave shelter last week. “There is only so much you can impose on the people you know,” noting the challenges of homelessness. He remarked positively on the good job Mr. Wiggins does with cleaning the area.

Norman works a second job at the car wash on Whalley from 4-8pm. He is trying to save up money to take a CDL course and get the specialize license to be a truck driver. He remarks that the course is about $5,000.

And what does he love about New Haven? “I get to meet all different kinds of people.” He loves his job because he loves this city. He feels cleaning up the city can make it more attractive for new businesses, which means more jobs for the people who live here. Norman takes pride in his work, he cleans it like it’s his home, because it is, and it shows from the constant hellos he receives, his cordial reply and then plowing straight back into his work. The only thing that I can see that can stop Norman from working, is if the rest of New Haveners treat the City like it’s their home and stop littering.

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Tools of the trade. Norman Wiggins can’t count the numbers of bags of trash he collects each day: “A lot!”

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Bus stops are a regular challenge. Norman notes that mornings have the most trash, but that they need to be cleaned several times a day.

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Angel Rivera knows why the bus shelters are so messy in the mornings. He notes it’s from the homeless people who sleep in them. He knows about being homeless, he’s slept in these very bus stops. “There is only so much you can impose on the people you know.” The local homeless shelter has a 90 day on, 90 day off policy. Without a long term solution to homelessness, Mr. Wiggins is guaranteed work each morning.

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The Ambassadors clean the curb line, side walks and trash cans throughout the day.

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Cardboard indicates that someone has slept here last night.

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Mr. Wiggins notes that cigarette butts are everywhere and they are a constant battle.

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Ralph recognizes Norman from Upper State Street, where the clean team also works.

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As this woman heads out, she calls to Norman about the verdict in the news today about developer Angelo Reyes. She, Norman and Angelo are all originally from Fair Haven.

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Ambassador Program Manager Tim Hamlin checks in on Norman Wiggins before heading to the office.

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I LOVE NEW HAVEN in the trash. This postcard had obviously been out there for some time due to the weathering.

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Pride in his work. Norman Wiggins quickly but carefully lines each trash can he empties.

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Concentrating at the task on hand.

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Deodorizing spray is one of the tools of the trade.

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The dust pan was easily and frequently filled as Norman Wiggins makes his rounds.

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“New Haven Until I Die”

  • Documentary