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Human Interest

Roxanne Cai Is a Real-Life Superhero Cleaning the Streets of San Francisco

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Episode 8 of AMERICAN DOERS, a new 12-part video series featuring original thinkers, innovators, craftspeople, risk-takers and artisans across the United States.

“We don’t have any real superpowers except the power to give a damn long enough to do something,” Roxanne Cai says.

The San Francisco native is a founding member of “The Initiative,” a group of real-life superhero volunteers keeping used drug needles off the streets.

“The world the I’m trying to fix here is the one my kids are growing up in — that’s my motivation,” she says.

Happy Marshall Productions
Roxanne Cai
Happy Marshall Productions
Happy Marshall Productions
Happy Marshall Productions

Since the group began, they’ve removed 7,000 used needles from a homeless encampment located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

For more American Doers, go to americandoers.people.com.

In addition to removing used needles, the group also provides food, bottled water and clothes to the homeless — and the members pay for supplies out of their own pockets.

“When I was growing up, if you saw somebody who needed help, the whole town would help that person,” Cai says. “Now, we’re so desensitized. It’s easier to mind your own business.

“I hate when people look at the drug users at horrible, awful people. They’re not — they’re people like us.”