SPEECH: Doe Fund graduate Michael Trent at the 2016 Doe Fund Gala

On October 27th, Doe Fund graduate Michael Trent welcomed a crowd of 500 guests to the 2016 Doe Fund gala at Cipriani. Michael spoke about the incredible transformation he experienced while being a trainee in our Ready, Willing and Able program as he stood with his daughter and mother at his side.

My name is Michael Trent. I’m a staff member at The Doe Fund. I run the drug testing lab at the Harlem Center for Opportunity. And I am also a graduate from the greatest program in the world, Ready, Willing & Able!

I also want to introduce you all to two of the most wonderful women God could have created for my life: my mother Yvonne, and my reason for living, my beautiful daughter, Kash’e.

The view up here is incredible. But I don’t think you can know what it means–what this perspective means–to someone like me. I have a front row seat tonight, and I’ve had a front row seat to what this program does since the day I walked through The Doe Fund’s doors.

Before I was a staff member…before I was a trainee…I was incarcerated. I spent—I lost—half my life behind bars.

I missed so much.

I missed so much time with my beautiful children. So many years with my mom. I missed so much of life.

But even worse than all the time away from my family was that when I got out, I had nothing to bring them. Nothing to show for all that time—the missed birthdays, the missed holidays.

The darkness of despair is real. How can a man without a home, without a job, without hope, be a good father or a good son? He can’t. I couldn’t.

Until this program.

What happens every day at The Doe Fund is a miracle. But instead of telling you what it is, I want to tell you what it means.

To the people we serve, the men I meet each day, this program is pure hope. It’s opportunity. It’s the chance to build and to rebuild your life into something you can stand on. By your own work, your own two hands—for yourself and for your family.

For the people who work here, it’s a chance to come together every morning and express goodness. Because when we make someone’s life whole…when we get the opportunity to provide an opportunity…we become more whole, ourselves.

Finally, to me…well, I don’t have to say much about what this program means to me. Because the meaning of The Doe Fund is standing right beside me.

This program. These people, George, and Harriet. This organization…they are the reason I’m here tonight. They are the reason I can stand here, surrounded by love and family. Surrounded by my heart.

I am the father my children need. I am the son my mother deserves.

I became this man because of The Doe Fund and because people like you support it. So let me just take a moment now and do what I do every day when I see my children go to school and every evening when I sit at my mother’s table for dinner— express gratitude: Thank you, everyone.

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About Author: The Doe Fund

Founded in 1985, The Doe Fund provides life-transforming services for the homeless, the formerly incarcerated, disenfranchised youth, and people living with AIDS. The organization's flagship Ready, Willing & Able program has helped tens of thousands of individuals achieve permanent self sufficiency through paid work, transitional housing, and employment training.