The Doe Fund Deploys COVID-19 Cleaning Crews

Homeless and formerly incarcerated trainees of Ready, Willing & Able volunteer to work on the frontlines throughout New York City during pandemic.



New York, NY— Seven days a week in neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, hundreds of homeless and formerly incarcerated men are cleaning and sanitizing over 100 miles of city streets.


On thirteen routes across Union Square, Midtown East, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Downtown Brooklyn, and along the Hudson River,

they are sweeping and bagging garbage—as they normally do—while also performing enhanced disinfecting services of bus kiosks, parking meters, phone booths, and other street furniture. Ready, Willing & Able’s Community Improvement Project has been deemed an “essential” service by government agencies, and several Business Improvement Districts continue to contract with The Doe Fund.


The safety of program participants is being prioritized by providing trainees with personal protective gear including masks and gloves, transporting cleaning crews in vans at reduced capacity, and practicing social distancing along cleaning routes.


These unlikely heroes are performing their duties at great self-sacrifice, but with enormous pride. In the words of one trainee, Robert Thompson, “It gives me the sense that I’m giving back to the community. It makes me feel appreciated. I don’t want to lose that feeling.”


Founder and President of The Doe Fund, George McDonald says, “In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, we are doubling down on what defines us: Work. The homeless and formerly incarcerated men we serve come to us because they know that it is only through paid work that they can reclaim their dignity, achieve self-sufficiency, and provide for their families. Being of service is transformative and, during these challenging times, the Men in Blue are proud to stand on the frontlines and heroically give back to our city when it needs it most.”


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About The Doe Fund: The Doe Fund provides housing, paid work opportunities, and supportive services to over 23,000 formerly homeless and incarcerated men in New York City. Its programs are proven to reduce recidivism, improve the quality of life in city neighborhoods, and foster permanent economic independence among its clients. For more information, visit


To interview Ready, Willing & Able trainees or to film cleaning crews, contact Liz Lion at

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