One Astoria resident recently wrote Council MemberÂ Costa Constantindes, to share a good deed that she witnessed from Jerome Fowlkes, a participant in the Ready, Willing & Able Program.
â€śOn May 31st, at the corner of 30th Avenue and 31st Street, I observed Jerome Fowlkes save a child.
â€śHe was on duty in Athens Square Park at about 12:45 PM. Â As a person in the Ready, Willing & Able program, he was there to keep the park clean.Â I observed Jerome run out into the intersection between the park and the 7-Eleven franchise and scoop up a child about two or three years of age who had stopped in the intersection to turn to look around.Â If a car came down the street, a driver may not have seen the small child.
â€śOut of bad comes good. If there were no Ready, Willing & Able program, there would not have been Jerome Fowlkes in Athens Square Park to do what he did. Bravo to Jerome and to you for overseeing the project that is helping keep Astoria clean.â€ť
In honor of his quick-thinking and kindness, we proudly presented Jerome with a certificate of recognition. Â Please join us in commending Jerome for his heroic actions!!
We are proud to share the news with you: The Doe Fund is participating in a national movement calledÂ #GivingTuesday!
Now in its second year,Â #GivingTuesdayÂ celebrates philanthropy and community under the premise that since we have a day for giving thanks and two for getting deals, it’s time to have a day for giving back. Â This year, we invite you to join The Doe Fund on Tuesday, December 3rd to celebrate a day of giving!
Publicly endorsed by the White House, Bill Gates, the Clinton Foundation, Mayor Bloomberg, and socially-conscious celebrities, #GivingTuesday harnesses the power of social media to create a national effort synonymous with the act of giving during the holiday season.
Hereâ€™s what you can do to help make this initiative a success:
Â 1) MentionÂ @TheDoeFundÂ andÂ #GivingTuesdayÂ onÂ twitter. You could even include a link directly to our online donation page (foundÂ here) orÂ retweet @TheDoeFundâ€™s own #GivingTuesday messages.
2) Tag us in your status updates onÂ FacebookÂ by typingÂ @TheDoeFund! IncludeÂ #GivingTuesdayÂ and let your friends know why you support the â€śmen in blue.â€ť You can also shareÂ The Doe Fundâ€™s Facebook postsÂ and include a personal message.
3) Email your friends and family and let them know you support The Doe Fund. With the gift-buying season officially underway, encourage your loved ones to give the gift of opportunity to the “men in blue”!
4) Share your support for The Doe Fund on a personal blog, on a charitable board on Pinterest, or through photos of the â€śmen in blueâ€ť on Instagram.
#GivingTuesday is about ordinary people coming together to doing extraordinary things, so join us in celebrating a day just for giving back!
Photo taken by staff member Kira Madden
This month, we said goodbye to a dear friend and a beloved colleague who was a truly inspirational man. Â David Williams joined Ready, Willing & Able in 2000 as one of the “men in blue” and went on to become a trusted case manager just a few years later after working in the private sector. Â This November would have marked David’s 10 years of service with The Doe Fund, and he will be sorely missed by the “men in blue,” graduates, and staff. Â An incredible friend to all who passed through his door, David will be remembered for his infectious good mood, his mesmerizing passion, and his integrity.
At the 2009 Ready, Willing & Able Graduation Ceremony, David spoke to hundreds of graduates as our first-ever alumni speaker. Â The below passage from his speech is a beautiful reflection on the man that David was – and the type of man he inspired our “men in blue” to be.
“Early on in my time as one of the ‘men in blue,’ I found a wallet with $300 in it. Â I remember coming out of a building and seeing my supervisor standing with a woman who was holding her baby and crying. Â He asked me if I found a wallet. Â At that moment, the man I was working to become was at a standoff with the man I used to be. Â I could have kept the money and nobody would have known about it. Â I asked, ‘Why, what happened?’ Â The woman told us she had lost her last $300 – money that she needed to pay her babysitter so that she could keep working. Â As I heard her story, something inside me made me reach into my pocket and hand her the wallet.
“When I got back to my facility, my director Nazerine Griffin sat me down in his office and said, ‘David, do you know what integrity is?’ I answered, ‘Yes, Mr. Griffin, I sure do. Â Integrity is doing the right thing when nobody else is looking.’ Â At that moment, I realized that integrity is the principle on which every part of Ready, Willing & Able was built – from the trusting relationships between staff and the trainees to the drug counseling and testing, and especially in that broom and bucket. Â By giving back that wallet, I demonstrated integrity.
“Over the years, I have helped hundreds of men, passing on the lessons I learned during my time in Ready, Willing & Able, with the fundamental principle of integrity as my guide. Â The ‘men in blue’ I work with think I’m giving them strength, but what they may not know is that they give me strength in return.”
On Wednesday, September 11th, participants from The Doe Funds Veterans Program joined NYSE Euronext employees and volunteers for the third annual Veterans Career Workshop.
The workshop was designed to assist veterans with the civilian transition into the workforce from active duty military service. The day was divided into interactive modules which addressed specific areas of the job search experience. Â The veterans and volunteers were greeted by an opening statement from NYSE CEOÂ Duncan Niederauer,Â who spoke about the commitment NYSE has made to supporting the veteran population through their transition into the community.
After a resume overview workshop, the veterans toured the exchange floor, where they paused for a moment of silence to remember those lost 12 years ago during the September 11th attack on our nation. Â The veteran participants also witnessed the notorious bell ringing on the Stock Exchange floor, which marks the start of the day’s trading session.
Veterans and volunteers continued Â the morning session by participating in resume-enhancement sessions, a series of one-on-one mock interviews, Â and networking exercises, which all highlighted key aspects to a successful job-search experience.
Each veteran was presented with a personalized packet, which included an outline of each of the modules, documents with valuable job search Â tools and the professional contacts they’ve made during the networking activities.
– Written by Stacy S.,Â Veterans Program Manager
Men from The Doe Fund’s Veterans Program
Lucius Haynes, a 2002 graduate, reflects on 9/11
On September 11, 2001, I was working in the Hudson River Park at Pier 54, by West 13th Street.Â I was a member of the Jersey City program, and Ready, Willing & Able had just started cleaning Hudson River Park. Â I was one of the first 10 people to work under the contract.
Normally, my route was on a bike path that went right by the World Trade Center on West Street.Â That morning, my assignment was changed to clean up at Pier 54.Â I wasn’t too happy about that decision because I loved cleaning the bike path â€“ there was a lot of shade!
About 15 minutes after I got to my station at Pier 54, a man standing next to me said, â€śLook at that plane!â€ťÂ I noticed it was flying very low, and as it headed towards the North Tower, it suddenly turned and crashed right into the building.Â I alerted the Park Ranger, and the joggers in the park began to notice what had happened.Â As I was telling people what I saw, my back was turned.Â Thatâ€™s when someone in front of me screamed â€“ the second tower had been struck.Â I turned back around and saw a ball of flames coming out of the second tower.
We began helping direct the traffic that was coming from downtown, and when the towers collapsed, the whole park shook like there was an earthquake.
After that, we were taken back to Harlem for a while.Â We tried to take the George Washington Bridge to get back to Jersey City, but they weren’t letting vehicles over.Â So the van drove us to the bridge, and we walked across.
Days later, when we went back to the park, there were garbage bags stacked about 10 feet high.Â We had a lot of work for the next couple of months, cleaning up the city.
My supervisorâ€™s decision to change my route that morning may have saved my life, and I will never forget that day.
On Wednesday, September 4, 2013, Bianca Van Heydoorn, the Director of Education Initiatives at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, along withÂ Krystlelynn Caraballo,Â visited The Doe Fund’s dispatch center to thank the organization for the important work that they do with the college’s Prisoner to College Pipeline.
This innovative research program, an initiative of the Prisoner Reentry Institute, makes a college education accessible to men who are incarcerated at the Otisville Correctional Facility. In this partnership, The Doe Fund provides transportation so that students at John Jay College and the men at Otisville Correctional can attend monthly seminars taught by CUNY professors, an integral part of John Jay’s learning exchange.
“It is clear to us that The Doe Fund is filled with fierce advocates for justice who are not only guided by the mission your the agency, but also by the larger vision of a community that provides opportunity for people who seek to redirect their lives,” writes Ann Jacobs,Â Director of the Prisoner Reentry Institute.
The Doe Fund is immensely proud of the work that our transportation arm carries out in conjunction with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and we are thrilled to have such inspired allies in the mission to break down the barriers to opportunity that incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women are facing every day.
Click hereÂ to read the full letter.
Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his powerful â€śI Have a Dreamâ€ť speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
While progress has been made, we have not come close to realizing this dream.Â New York Cityâ€™s poverty rate is up to 21% percent in the poorest communities of every borough.Â Citywide, the unemployment rate is 8.4% percent, and more than 350,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in New York City are not in school and without a job.
Without opportunity, the number of disenfranchised youth in our most vulnerable communities will continue to grow.Â Crime, generational poverty, and unmet potential are poised to engulf even larger areas of our city. Â Today, extraordinary numbers of youth are filling New Yorkâ€™s homeless shelters.
The Doe FundÂ is now focusing on the needs of this generation through aÂ new initiative,Â which provides housing, on-the-job training, education, and a strong support network.Â Our goal is to help these youth find full-time employment while reinforcing independent living skills and connections to the community.
The young men in our program have already demonstrated that they can and will succeed, given the opportunity.Â Over and over again, they tell us, â€śIâ€™m young.Â I still have hopes and dreams,â€ť echoing Dr. Kingâ€™s historic message.
Help us help these young menÂ maintain hope and fulfill Dr. Kingâ€™s dream.
For almost eight years, Joseph Calhoun has been anÂ esteemed member of The Doe Fund family, and a role model for trainees and staff alike. With an eye on advancement,Â Joseph is a dynamic example of how far you can go if you let your passions and motivation guide you.
Joseph entered The Harlem Center for Opportunity in late 2004 wanting to turn his life around. He began training in security and achieved his 8-Hour, 16-Hour, & Fire Safety Coordinator certificates while also focusing on CLICÂ classes to hone his computer skills. â€śI motivated myself Â because I never wanted to fail again,â€ť Joseph said of his time as a trainee. â€śFailing is not a pretty sight.â€ť
His higher-ups took note of his unquenchable drive, and in 2005 he was hired as a staff security officer at TDFâ€™s Peter Jay Sharp Center for Opportunity in Brooklyn. The next eight years for Joseph were a whirl of promotions and awards, including the Employee Rewards & Recognition Program award in 2008. This award honors TDF employees who best exhibit TDFâ€™s 10 Key Leadership Characteristics, and Joseph had been nominated for the caring way he handles all trainee issues.
As an RWA grad, Joseph was eligible to participate in the Graduate Career Advancement Program (GCAP), which helps grads focus even further on advancement goals. GCAP helped Joseph land another promotion last month, making him the new Training Coordinator in charge of managing Ready, Willing, & Ableâ€™s occupational training tracks. This new role will help Joseph continue to achieve his long-term goal of helpingÂ people. â€śIâ€™ve wanted to help people since I started at The Doe Fund and saw it helping me,â€ť Joseph said.
Next, Joseph will work toward a degree in social servicesÂ so that he can continue helping people.
Â â€śStay clean. Work. Save money and respect people, ” Joseph advises current trainees. “Be professional in everything you do, and you willÂ succeed.â€ť
Congratulations, Joseph; we are excited to continue watching you grow!
â€śFrom a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.â€ť – Aeschylus
Itâ€™s been a formative few months on the farm. In the time since we completed installation, we’veÂ planted, watered, weeded, and harvested our way from a seedling of a project into an increasingly mightyÂ trunk of a program.
In the past few weeks, despite some blazing hot weather, weÂ are proud to announce that we’ve produced two full daysâ€™Â worth of salad greens for our nearly 200 Harlem Center forÂ Opportunity residents, and recruited our second cohort of inspired trainees. Theyâ€™ve been a fantastic team thus far, andÂ we look forward to working together toward a successfulÂ second half of our inaugural season.
Stay tuned for more updates as summer winds down, autumnÂ gears up, and our mighty little farm continues to bear the fruitsÂ of our labor!
Below are some photos from our most recent harvest. Enjoy!
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
The Doe Fund turns fathers into dads. We hear this phrase so often that it has become a cornerstone of the Ready, Willing & Able model. The program that works the hardest to make that statement true is our Fatherhood Initiative, which is run by Brooke Lombardo, The Doe Fund’s Parenting Resource & Child Support Coordinator.
In July of 2011, Brooke piloted the first Fatherhood Initiative program atÂ Ready Willing & Able – Gates. In the summer of 2012, classes at The Harlem Center for Opportunity and the Peter J. Sharp Center for Opportunity, in Brooklyn, replaced the single Gates cohort, running the program in eight-week cycles.Â The classes, which are highly attended by the ‘men in blue’, cover topics such as communication, discipline, and fathers’ rights.Â â€śI want people to leave the group with a sense of empowerment,â€ť says Brooke.
The curriculum does not try to solve every problem; it gives its participants skills to put in their toolbox. If a father can walk away having learned a better way of communicating with his childâ€™s mother, orÂ a better understanding of corrective behaviors, then the class was successful. It serves as a stepping stone for fathers toward a better relationship with their children, and their families.Â A common fear among the men is that the facilitator will tell them how to parent, but Brooke assures that the real goal is for the men to connect with each other, learn from each other, and share stories of their experiences as fathers and sons.Â The class has proven to be an effective forum for the free exchange of ideas betweenÂ fathers of varying backgrounds who share a commonÂ experience — being separated from their children because ofÂ whatever circumstances brought them here, and trying toÂ parent when you are elsewhere.
The Fatherhood Initiative’s program is more than 16 hours of class time.Â Through the program, The Doe Fund has worked with the men to successfully coordinate the payment of more than $45,000 toward child support by trainees while in the program, and more than $400,500 by those discharged since 2009. It also assists trainees and grads in navigating the family court system through payment modifications, custody hearings, and child visitation decisions.
Whether the turning point is a lesson learned, a connection made, or responsibility taken, one thing is for certain: Forever Fathers is a program that mentally, emotionally, and financially helps fathers transition into dads.