On Sunday, the New York Post published an article critical of Mayor de Blasio and the Department of Homeless Services for continuing Project Reconnect, a voluntary program that provides one-way travel for homeless individuals and families stranded in New York City. Our president and founder, George T. McDonald, responds:
Those of us who advocate for the homeless have imagined ourselves in the situation countless times: youâ€™re stranded in the city without food, shelter, or money. Youâ€™re alone. Youâ€™re lost. A few hundred miles away, your family is waiting to help you. But you have no way to get to them and they have no means to bring you home.
Whatâ€™s the best solution? The answer is obvious: a way home.
Project Reconnect is an important, compassionate answer to one facet of New York Cityâ€™s homelessness crisis. It provides a fast, simple, and effective way to end an individual’s suffering and alleviates some of the pressure under which our shelter system operates.
But even setting compassion for the homeless aside and forgetting about the overwhelming demand for shelter in New York City, the program is a success by the numbers. Every homeless person in New York City is likely to spend time in one of three places: a shelter, a hospital, or a jail cell. And a bus ticket home always costs the taxpayer less than any of those eventualities.
Project Reconnect isnâ€™t a problem at all. Not for the Mayor, not for the Department of Homeless Services, and certainly not for the tax-paying citizens of New York City. It may not be the right solution for every homeless person struggling here. But when help is far away, the best chance a person can hope for is a way to reach it.
CBS News reports that young Black men in Ferguson, Missouri, are suffering from an unemployment rate of nearly 50%. Our founder and president George T. McDonald released the following statement in support of peace, opportunity, and prosperity forÂ the people of Ferguson.
â€śIf a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty.â€ť – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ferguson is at war with itself. The city is burning, its citizens are outraged, the police have militarized and we, the rest of the country, are wondering how and why a violent confrontation between a police officer and a young man has sparked a national crisis.
Then, last Friday, a story came out that offered some insight.
According to the CBS Evening News, unemployment for young Black men in Ferguson is nearly 50%. One out of every two young men of color in the city has no work; no way to support themselves or their families; and none of the dignity, economic equality, or independence that comes from employment.
When we talk about unemployment as a nation, we talk about the financial impacts: slumping industries, a receding GDP, an increase in poverty. But unemployment causes more than financial hardship; it causes a terrible, aggressive form of social decay. Without the hope of prosperity, how can people hope for justice? Without the self esteem that comes from work, how can people aspire to better lives?
Chronic unemployment and the poverty that comes with it is toxic to the American ideals of equality and freedom. And when unemployment endures, we should expect nothing less from Americans suffering under that kind of economic oppression than revolt.
To restore peace in Ferguson, we must restore opportunity. The young men there are Ready, Willing & Able to work; not only that, theyâ€™re asking us, right on the evening news, for the chance to work.
It is time for us as a nation to stop wondering why and how Ferguson erupted in violence. While Michael Brownâ€™s death was surely the spark which ignited the city, the suffocating fumes of unemployment and poverty have been building for years.
Let us come together to give the people of Ferguson the hand up they need, the prosperity they hope for, and the opportunity they deserve. No city will go to war with itself when everyone has the dignity and security of work.
Today New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of Brigadier General Loree L. Sutton to Commissioner of Veterans’ Affairs.
After a 30-year career in the US Army and becoming the highest ranking psychiatrist in the force, Gen. Sutton will now lead one of our city’s most important agencies at a critical time for the thousands of men and women in uniform returning home.
Our founder and president, George McDonald, released the following statement of support:
All of us at The Doe Fund congratulate Brigadier General Loree L. Sutton, M.D., on her appointment to Commissioner of Veterans’ Affairs by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Gen. Sutton has set an example for all of us to follow through her lifelong service to her country and fellow citizens. The city of New York is fortunate to have her skill, experience, and compassion driving one of our most important agencies.
The issues that veterans face during their transition to civilian life are extraordinarily complex and touch every aspect of their journey home: from securing employment, to accessing health services, to simply reuniting with family and friends with the health, confidence, and security they deserve.
As greater numbers of our men and women in uniform return home, their long term health and well-being is our responsibility, as a community, to ensure. Under Gen. Suttonâ€™s leadership, weâ€™ll be a step closer to doing just that.
The Doe Fundâ€™s programs have connected hundreds of veterans with employment and housing opportunities. But there is so much more work to be done. We look forward to assisting Gen. Sutton and collaborating with her office to realize her vision of a city replete with the resources and services our heroic veterans need to return home and begin the next chapter of their lives.
Learn more about The Doe Fund’s Veterans programs here.
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.