We all know Santa Barbara has one of the prettiest harbors on the coast, but you might not know who keeps it that way. In cooperation with the Harbor Maintenance Department, a dedicated group of men and women with a wide range of physical, developmental, and mental health disabilities has been sweeping sidewalks, cleaning restrooms, emptying trash, and generally keeping the harbor beautiful for more than 20 years: the Santa Barbara Harbor Crew, a jobs program of the local nonprofit service agency UCP WORK, Inc. A job on the Harbor Crew is much more than just a regular paycheck: Crew members know they’re part of a successful team and truly integrated workforce. Working visibly for their community and among neighbors and friends provides a great source of pride and self-esteem. They challenge the norm, mostly living independently, getting to work by bus, bike, or in their own cars. Over half have been crew members for over five years, and a few have been working almost 20.
As dedicated and skilled as these workers are, their program could not survive without supplementary funding. Through UCP WORK, Inc., the Harbor Crew is partly funded by Tri-Counties Regional Center and the Department of Rehabilitation. But with rates sadly frozen around 1994 levels, the Harbor Crew has launched its own crowdfunding effort via indiegogo With winter approaching, the crew is seeking donations for new uniform shirts, hats, hoodies, and safety equipment. To help with any amount, or for more info and a truly enjoyable video, go to: http://indiegogo.com/projects/hoodies. And the next time you stroll the waterfront keep an eye out for the Harbor Crew and say hello.