The 'Trash Lady of Duvall' won't stop until her city's clean

The 'Trash Lady of Duvall' won't stop until her city's clean »Play Video
Helen Hoenig
DUVALL, Wash. -- Earth Day didn't end at the stroke of midnight for one inspirational senior citizen from Duvall.

Helen Hoenig is a self-described neat freak and a one-woman sanitation department. Nobody is paying her to be the litter lady of Duvall -- she does it to make a difference.

"I'm just a neat person and very project oriented. So I always take on projects, thinking, in my life what's my new project?" she said.

Hoenig retired from the real estate business and now, at the age of 69-years old, she spends her days talking trash.

From hub caps to hypodermic needles, Hoenig has gathered hundreds of bags of garbage.

She left a high-powered position negotiating deals in the nation's capital to move back home to Western Washington, where she scours the streets and roams ravines for trash.

"And now I'm the trash lady of Duvall," she said. "And you know what? I like that term."

The one-woman community cleanup started three months ago while Hoenig was on a walk.

"I kept saying what is all this paper doing here, what is it?" she said.

Instead of complaining, she began collecting. And soon, her neighbors began to notice her work.

"The litter lady. We love her, she cleans up our town," one neighbor said.

Anyone who's spent much time in Duvall in recent months has probably spotted Hoenig tidying her town from dusk to dawn.

"I stopped by and gave her an orange high-visibility vest and a pair of safety glasses," said crane operator Scott Lennon.

Outfitted in orange and armed with trash bags, Hoenig wants to bring beauty back to the town she left in her 20s.

Her hard work hasn't gone unnoticed, and neighbors often stop to thank her for keeping the city clean.

Hoenig said she's going to ease up on her trash collection soon because she's allergic to yellow jackets. The neighbor who gave her the safety vest was so inspired by Hoenig's work that he's going to help organize a group of volunteers to help out with the cleaning.