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Toppenish Successfully Battles Graffiti With Help From Churches

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The City of Toppenish says they have removed more than 90 percent of the graffiti they had 5 years ago by working closely with local churches. The City of Toppenish says they have removed more than 90 percent of the graffiti they had 5 years ago by working closely with local churches.

TOPPENISH, WA - This is something you don't see very much in Toppenish anymore. But five years ago, it was a different story.

"I would say probably 60% of the surfaces in Toppenish were covered in graffiti at that time," Pastor Frank East said.

That's when Pastor Frank East decided to work with the city's Community Safety Network to make a difference. Pastor East recruited about a dozen churches to get involved and spearheaded the effort to keep graffiti off.

Since 2008, those churches have spent more than 400 hours painting over 200 thousand square feet of graffiti around the town. 
     
"We enjoy bringing about a clean surface," Pastor East said.

When Pastor East and his team first started, they found 30-40 places a weekend, that looked like this. Now all they have to do, is find about 5 places to paint.

And Officer Jake Church says Toppenish is now a different place.

"Traditionally there have been gang problems in Toppenish," Officer Church said. "And there still is but we've noted a significant or notable decrease in the past five years or so. The graffiti aspect kind of hits it at it's roots."

Pastor East is happy to make a difference.

"God had a plan for this community and I got to be a part of that," Pastor East said. "So I'm proud to be able to fulfill my purpose that He has placed me here for."

These two weeks of "Graffiti Be Gone" hosted by Safe Yakima are meant to create more results like the ones realized by Pastor Frank East in Toppenish.

Pastor East recommends that other communities start partnerships between local churches and community organizations to help stamp out graffiti.

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