Polson Avengers with founder Kai Eli at front, a volunteer group that is cleaning up Polson Park (Facebook)
They call themselves the Polson Avengers, and their mission is to make Polson Park safer.
25 year old Vernon resident Kai Eli leads a group of ten volunteers who spend time in the park daily, trying to make people feel more comfortable, and cleaning up dangerous items like discarded needles.
The downtown green space has had ongoing issues with drug use and members of the street-entrenched population.
“I grew up in that park and I’m very familiar with it, and street wise in that aspect, that I could offer my assistance to inherit what ever is going on, and at the same time, if it’s raining, we’re in there just cleaning up needles and picking up stuff that I’ve actually found dangerously close to playgrounds,” Eli tells CJIB-Beach Radio News.
Eli says he was compelled to take action when he read about a young boy who said in a letter to the editor he didn’t feel safe using the park’s skateboard facility anymore, after being intimidated and threatened by apparent homeless individuals or groups.
“I just read that one thing one day and I just got tired of it. We’ve got to do something about this. It just made sense. That’s all people need sometimes, is just a little push, or somebody to open the door for them, and then everybody starts helping, which is cool,” says Eli, who says he spends a couple hours in the park each evening after his day job as an iron worker in the Okanagan.
Eli says the more people know about them, the more successful they can be in bringing families back to the park.
“I do have a sponsorship from my supplier from my supplier, Harris Rebar. They’re going to pay for our high-vis shirts with custom super heroes like the Avengers. And that’s just to help (the public) to spot who we are.”
Eli says he’s shocked at the drug paraphernalia and other items he’s found since starting his efforts last weekend.
“Everybody, they always talk about it, and how it’s littered with needles and drug abusers and stuff. I knew that the people were there, but I had never actually seen any of that stuff myself. So to actually get out there and put in some time to wander around and find what I’ve found, its actually very upsetting.”
You can follow the group’s activities on their Facebook page under Polson Avengers.