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The City Journals

Jim Peery takes pride in cleaning Sandy sidewalks—on his scooter

Jun 18, 2019 03:17PM ● By Julie Slama

Sandy volunteer Jim Peery rakes debris along a Redwood fence in an effort to clean up his neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Jeni Larsen)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Chances are, many motorists have probably seen the man in a green hat riding a red motorized scooter off of Highland on Newcastle. Several regularly wave to him. 

Sandy resident Jim Peery rides along that area almost daily from spring to fall, not only out for fresh air, but to exercise and serve his community. 

Put in reverse — beep, beep, beep — exercise? Yep, that’s right. 

Equipped with tools he can use while on his scooter, Peery will rake and scoop up trash and debris along his journey, bagging it for Sandy City to pick up.

“When Sandy Pride day was coming last year, I realized they couldn’t paint that Redwood fence they had planned to with all the junk at the bottom of it,” he said. “They needed somebody to clean it out. Then, I said, I’m somebody. I can do it, and dug out junk, paper, Maple leaves, wrappers, and it started all right there.”

Since then, whenever Peery rides, his basket is filled with tools, including pinchers, to pick up trash to put in bags his wife buys. After four hours of cleaning up the sidewalks almost every day, Peery leaves behind 10 to 15 bags of trash he collects, then he contacts Sandy City to send a crew over to pick them up.

“It’s really been a gratifying thing to do. It’s something I can do by myself to make a difference. I’ve had so many people stop and say thank you. My idea is just to try to make it look nicer, a better experience, for those walking dogs, biking, running or using the sidewalk and grassy area as they go to Flat Iron Park or the LDS stake there,” he said.

This isn’t a job he wants to be paid for, nor necessarily get attention.

“I just enjoy doing it. It’s a win-win. I feel better when I go outside and exercise, and as a result, it benefits our community and Sandy looks better without all the trash that collects along the fence line,” he said.

Twenty years ago, Peery began having problems walking. Neurologically, the message to keep his balance while walking failed.

“It was sudden. I couldn’t get my legs and feet to work, to balance. They don’t know why, but they know I’ll always be this way. Whatever or why, I’m blessed that I’m stable and can ride the scooter so I can still get around,” he said.

With the change of movement, his position as a computer programmer with Williams ceased.

“I became a liability in a case of emergency. They would have had to get me out of the building fast and that would be hard to do in a wheelchair. Since 2005, I’ve done volunteer work,” he said.

In the winter, Peery switches to indoor volunteer work of scanning governmental records and helping his church with databases. 

When the weather improves, it’s back to cleaning the city. He does it on his own, without the help of his wife, his four adult daughters or 13 grandchildren.

“It’s all my thing. I enjoy doing it. It takes a lot of time, but then, I have a lot of time. I’ve met so many interesting people and others wave and honk. They probably just think, there’s the man with the green hat and the red scooter back at it again,” Peery said. “I’m glad I can just do my part.”