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August 3, 2004
Busy strip gets Doe for Able-bodied clean-up

Beach 116th Street in the Rockaways is getting a fresh, clean look, courtesy of a busy band of formerly homeless men.

Soda cans, potato chip bags and other trash tossed to the busy street by beachgoers and commuters are getting swept up in the Doe Fund's Ready, Willing and Able program.

"We're excited, because this is our first route in the area," said Isabel McDevitt, director of community affairs for the Doe Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps the homeless through paid work and other social services.

The program gave former convict Terrell Walker, 31, a brighter outlook. "I did 12 years of prison, and when I came out, it was hard for me to find a permanent job, because of my record," said Walker, who did time for manslaughter.

"Then my parole officer told me about this program," Walker said. "It's a good program that allows you to help yourself while helping others."

John Lepore, president of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, noted that his organization's involvement has spurred interest from area businesses and residents.

"This is part of what we need to do. We need to get it grass-roots so people will be interested in where they work and live," he said.

From 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday, a cleaning crew will tidy up Beach 116th's two-block commercial strip between Rockaway Beach and Jamaica Bay.

Aside from Beach 116th St., which is one of the busiest and most traveled roads on the Rockaway peninsula, the Ready, Willing and Able crew will tidy up Rockaway Beach Blvd. between Beach 113th and Beach 117th Sts.

During the summer, workers will continue to clean up the trash on the road and sidewalks. In the winter months, they will clear snow in crosswalks and around fire hydrants.

Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Rockaway) secured $35,000 in city funds for the project, which will run through the end of the year.

"I think it's money well spent," Addabbo said. "I think it's a great investment, not only for the community but for the homeless who are trying to help themselves."

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