Bakersfield's homeless population is growing. That's according to the Kern County Homeless Collaborative. Earlier this year their representatives estimated nearly 900 people are living on Bakersfield's street.
On Monday 23 ABC met one of those homeless people, Christine Teagarden, in Jastro Park in Downtown Bakersfield.
Teagarden leaned over and picked up a rusted piece of metal. While holding it in her hand she said, "It makes me feel insane. It’s disgusting.” And as she putt it in the closest trash can she added, “It should be put in a biohazard bag, you know. But that’s better than nothing."
Before people visit Jastro Park, Teagarden is there cleaning the park.
“I was raised a worker. And I love the land. And I just think that it’s being abused by people who just throw trash down and not pick it up and not teaching their children to pick it up,” said Teagarden.
She doesn't get a paycheck from the city, she's just someone who saw trash building up, a park that needed to be cleaned and is doing something about it.
While sweeping away cobwebs she said, “There’s these spider webs. Those spiders bite.”
But Teagarden said, she does get a reward for her hard work.
“Being homeless at this time, when I clean up in an area, businesses whatever, I feel like I’ve, I’ve paid my rent kind of to be able to be there. And be a positive additive to society," said Teagarden.
She said she became homeless a couple of months ago after getting kicked out of her retirement home.
Teagarden said, “I was letting people take showers, homeless people. And other people felt threatened you know. And it just became thing after another.”
On Monday Jeremiah Littlejohn and his family came to Jastro Park. And that's where he met Teagarden.
“She was out here, you know sweeping. I thought she worked here at first. That’s why I came and asked her because I wanted to know what time the water came on. And she was over here sweeping away,” said Littlejohn.
When he found out she was homeless, that's when he lent a hand.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover. You know it just reinforces that. You can’t. You don’t know what that person is, what they’ve gone through or anything about that person. And it’s actions that speak louder than words and she did that,” said Littlejohn.
While Teagarden sweeps, she said she sings, "This Is How We Do It" and dances.
“The thought of sitting down and not being able to dance, oh my god,” said Teagarden.
She is hoping her example will inspire others.
Teagarden said, “Just pickup after yourself and it doesn’t need to be done.”