A film by Jonathan Rutsch. More at SidewalkStory.

James Boatner has a grizzled beard, a giant shopping cart and an unusual street name. Residents of West Oakland know him simply as "Clean-Up", because that's what he does. The soft spoken homeless man spends his days sweeping the streets he has lived on for over 15 years. He is a familiar face in the neighborhood and beloved by its children. In this short film, 71-year-old "Clean-Up" speaks with quiet dignity about his life on the streets and his dream of writing a memoir that will give the world a window into what it means to be homeless.


 Your Name: Email:
  • Emma Shavers

    No body know like I know. That familiar voice has not changed in 55 years. 🙏♥️💋

  • Gail

    What a gentle soul. Is he getting his social security or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) money? Here in the US we have systems to help support... Has James fallen through the cracks in the system or is there more at work here? I know SSI might not be enough to afford decent shelter here in NorCal, but it certainly can help greatly with food, etc.

  • Patricia Amazon

    James singing was like the spiritual hymns I grew up with. It made me smile inside. His willingness to share all he has which isn't much was a reminder that everyone can do something. No matter how small.

  • Otis

    To support James "Clean-Up" Boatner you can contact Sidewalkstory.com at hello@sidewalkstory.com

  • Brian

    Thanks Guys!!!!!! God bless him...."A name for change"...so much to learn if we open our hearts and minds, as he mentions...what a blessing...I really liked the art at the end with the 4 brooms...so many people in media marketing try to equate "4" with currency accumulation...it's an ancient numerical essence "focusing" expressed in discipline/work ethic...he is "4" about cleaning thangs up...to all the self proclaimed "4's", out there...let's have a heart :)...thanks again to all y'all Love Bugs who care.....peace be with U...U is love...peace

  • Jenny

    How is that in a country filled with unbelievable amounts of wealth (mansions, multiple homes, multiple luxury cars, etc. etc.) that homelessness even exists? And how is it that James, a man of such sweetness and purity has not yet received any assistance so that he can tell HIS story?? Thank you James, for sharing a piece of your soul and your heart with us. I live a very humble and modest life, but pray that someone with the means will reach out to help you achieve the dream of writing your book and telling your story. Bless you.

  • Emanuel "Mano" Boyd

    He has such great degree of unselfishness. he seems so content with his sets of meager circumstances.He remains firmly connected to a spiritual higher order.It's almost as if he exsist to be a modern day messenger,His compassion for his fellow human beings is most impressive in the way he counsels the young people.I feel that he certainly qualifies to be one of the "meek" that will some day inherit the earth.

  • deborah

    IS there any way to help clean up find and pay for a place to stay? a home?

  • Pamela

    James’s determination to tell his story is inspirational in many ways. I hope he fulfills his desire and gets the facilities and tools needed to kick start the project. He cleans the streets out of the need to be doing something beneficial to the community. You'd think the City of West Oakland and its residents could pay him for this municipal service. He has become a counselor of sorts to the children, who one day as adults, take steps to live in a world where no one is living on the streets in the midst of great wealth.

  • Ayaan

    His love for GOD!!! I know you have will write that book... sending you dear Sr love, and prays.THANK YOU FOR CARING.

  • Julia Grama

    I love his spirit and determination. He has big dreams. Even though life has been hard for him, he hasn't given up hope!

  • Nirmala

    I loved listening to James' beautiful singing, about his relationship with children, and about his life on the streets. What a brave and courageous man....may your dreams come true James Boatner!

  • sophia

    I am not inspired. I am angry that no one has helped this man... he should be singing somewhere. Thanking him here is useless, it means nothing, doesn't help him in any way and will never be seen by him.

  • Glen Thamert

    Thank you, James! You are a good man who is a witness to the way we treat homeless human beings in the USA .. a sad commentary on the wealthiest country on earth. You have a beautiful spirit and one Jesus, who was also homeless for 3 years in Palestine, would certainly respect. May your dream come true .. writing a book and making a movie for us. Blessings to you. Glen in NM

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    Thank you for putting a beautiful face to homelessness; so kind, well spoken, sweet, gentle. We are ALL Human. And what a wonderful human he is, however you call him: James, Pops or Clean-Up. He is making a Difference in his community! <3 and HUGS to James and to you all for sharing his Story! I want to HUG you James. Here's to seeing the Human being.

  • Jamus

    I would love to know how to communicate with CleanUp. There aren't any prayers or such here, just a desire of the heart to communicate and discover whether and what.

  • Avigdor

    Respect! Wisdom of the heart come from life experiences and positive attitude no matter what life style you got.

  • gayathri

    Cleanliness is next to Godliness.....Prayers for your well-being and the beautiful connections that you nurture with the young ones....hugs!

  • Yogesh

    There are no words. James you are an inspiration. The thing is your greatness is magnified by the simple fact that you do not realise your greatness. You touch many lives through you being. You emanate an energy which has the ability to transform without words. May the road rise up yo meet you and may The Lord keep in His lap.

  • Krisstina

    How strong his faith in God is. Even with having to live on the streets he is not mad, he smiles and speaks kindly of God.

  • Liz

    James Boatner = "Cleanup" = The Face of God

  • Godscribe

    I love hearing the story of God through this man. He looks like a shepard. He has a story to tell that must be told indeed. He's a teacher. I hope he can write his book.

  • Page 1

  • Read Street Stories With a Global Reach, an article that shares the uplifting back story on this video.
  • Visit Another Day, Another 600 Seconds, a project that shares stories of marginalized people.
  • Do you ever pass a homeless person and look the other way or keep walking? Today, challenge yourself to stop, acknowledge their presence, and share something -- whether it's a smile, a sandwich or a conversation.

Recent Pledges

Related Videos