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Adopt-A-Highway gets personal for Long Beach family, friends

Grunion Gazette - 7/5/2022

Jul. 5—Many adults looked for ways to keep their teenaged family members engaged during the coronavirus pandemic.

And one Long Beach family found success through Caltrans' Adopt-A-Highway program.

Carolyn Kirkpatrick, who owns and operates a company called TPxD Movement (Think, Plan and Do), was casting about last year for something to keep her nieces and friends active while doing something worthwhile, said Allison Queen, spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation.

"Her search for something meaningful led her to Caltrans' Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) volunteer program," Queen wrote in an email.

"Fast forward, Carolyn Kirkpatrick, both her nieces, Nia and Nya Johnson, nephew Jacob Davis and several colleagues," she added, "can be seen two to three times each month picking up litter at northbound I-710 at Wardlow Road in Long Beach."

The Kirkpatrick gang gets some help from the state, too: a $250 a month stipend to keep the shoulders of their adopted highway free of litter.

The money, Queen said, comes from Gov. Gavin Newsom's$1.1 billion Clean California initiative. There are other options for cleanups and stipends, including on- and off-ramps, parts of interchanges — even bike paths.

"I wanted to give Nia (one of the nieces) responsibility and a sense of purpose, so I gave her a leadership position. She's responsible for looking out for our safety as we pick up litter," Kirkpatrick said in a release. "This is our time spent together as a family as well as give back to Long Beach, and we enjoy it! Picking up litter gives us gratification and a feeling of pride and belonging in our community."

Kirkpatrick told Queen that the family enjoys spending the time together and seeing the results of their frequent cleanups. They pass the time by making up stories about the things they find — from credit cards to beer cans, along with a pregnancy test or two — and enjoy the support received from truck drivers and others giving them a honk and cheering them on.

The cleanups, Kirkpatrick said, also fit into her ongoing quest for mindfulness for herself and others.

"We're in the moment, concentrating on gathering up litter, looking out for each other's safety and focused on doing a good job," she told Queen. "It ticks a lot of boxes."

Families, companies, even individuals can adopt highways, trails and more through Caltrans. Adopters have the option to participate as volunteers or to hire a maintenance service provider to perform the work, Queen said.

Participation can cover removing litter, planting and maintaining trees and wildflowers, removing graffiti and controlling vegetation. Highway adoptions usually cover a two-mile stretch of roadside and permits are issued for five years.

People doing the work themselves do have to complete a safety course.

To find out more about adopting a highway, call coordinators Darryl Atkins, 213-793-7244, or Sheila Hopkins, 661-775-1485. Details are at


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