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|October 11, 2005|
|New Hope for Homeless|
by Demitri Diakantonis
|The Doe Fund is back in Queens, with more dough to back it. For the third straight year, the Doe Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides jobs along with other social services to the homeless, is going to deploy homeless men to clean the streets in some Queens neighborhoods. |
But this year they'll be doing it with the help of $95,000 - the most funding the fund has ever had - thanks to the office of Councilman Eric Gioia.
Gioia, Doe Fund officials and some members of the fund's Ready, Willing and Able street-cleaning program made the announcement Friday at a press conference at Angie's Restaurant in Woodside.
"Nothing makes a great neighborhood look worse than litter," said Gioia (D-Sunnyside). "I am so proud to work with [Doe Fund President] George McDonald and his extraordinary organization to bring this exciting and dynamic initiative to our neighborhood."
McDonald explained that the Ready, Willing and Able program not only puts men to work cleaning streets but puts them up in drug-free, crime-free "transitional" housing and gives them job training and life skills courses.
"Their future isn't going to be out here sweeping the streets," he said. "Their future is going to be whatever they want to do with their lives."
Tomas Pardo, 33, is one of the several program participants looking to turn his life around. "I'm tired of doing nothing all my life," said Pardo, who blamed drug abuse for the troubles in his life, including the loss of his 10-year marriage. "It [the program] is a beautiful thing. People see the work [we do] and they respect that."
Cruz Rosa, 39, has been in the Ready, Willing and Able program for about two years. He said that not only is his family happier with him now, but he feels he's a better person as well. "I have a better sense of direction," Rosa said. "I have something to look forward to. I enjoy working."
The Doe Fund currently has Ready, Willing and Able programs in Corona, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Jackson Heights, Woodside, Sunnyside and the Rockaways. Fund officials said there are plans to expand the program to other neighborhoods in the borough.
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