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October 27, 2013
The Doe Fund's Annual Red Carpet Gala

by Yanique Bourjolly

Last Thursday, October 24th The Doe Fund celebrated their annual gala honoring thousands of homeless New Yorkers achieving self-sufficiency through educational and work opportunities at the beautiful Cipriani building on 42nd Street.  Attendees included cast member Dascha Polanco of the new Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, renowned shoe designer Steve Madden, celebrity stylist Derek Warburton, True Blood actress Carrie Preston, model Jessica White as well as Moroccan star Zineb Oukach amongst others.

Headquartered in New York City, The Doe Fund is large-scale non-profit that helps over 1,000 people every day financially and educationally to better their circumstances through workforce development, job placement, housing and counseling. Previously homeless or incarcerated, the “men in blue” of the organization’s award winning program, Ready, Willing & Able can be seen cleaning the streets of the City. 

The event featured remarks from former and current participates as well as a speech from George T. McDonald, founder and president of The Doe Fund; a nod from the Heroes of Hurricane Sandy: Doe Fund members who helped in the Sandy relief and as well as a short documentary featuring members speaking to the program’s successes in their own words.

Check out our red carpet interviews:

Q: How did you get involved in The Doe Fund?

Carrie Preston: I haven’t to be honest heard a lot about the Doe Fund before I was asked to get involved.  They came and approached me to attend the event and then I started looking into it.  I then realized of course, I see all of the participants of the programs out on the streets and I see them in the City. And then I put it together that it was the Doe Fund that was giving them these incredible opportunities.  I see these men all the time and they’re definitely making our city a cleaner place with the work that they are doing there.  The fund seems to be giving them incredible opportunities to make choices in their lives maybe they haven’t had the opportunity to make in the past.

Dascha Polanco: Being in a prison show, I told my publicist that I want to belong to charities that are doing things for people in prison, men and women.  I was super excited because I did not know that programs like this even existed.  We don’t know and we don’t hear about the Doe Fund at least I haven’t.  This is so great, people need to know this and not because I want people to go to jail and then go into the program but because people should know that there’s people out there actually helping you in the event that you fall into a situation like this and for the better.  You hear all the time that there’s incarcerated men or women that can’t find a job after and can’t raise their kids. The “equal opportunity” quote unquote is really not equal when you place that check that you’ve been convicted or whatever reason.  It intrigues me and makes me very proud that humanity is helping one another.  I see the men here and they are probably so grateful to have a GED, get back on their feet with housing and educate themselves to look forward to a new life.  These things feed my soul.

Zineb Oukach: I got involved through my research of the program. I’m really in touch with the work they do and the mission that they have in terms of providing these men educational opportunities who didn’t have them in the past.  It’s very important for me because I come from Morocco and without education I don’t think I would be here with you, talking with you.  Education is a passport for life and this is what they are doing and it’s working and it’s great.  These people want to make their life better and make decisions for themselves and the Doe Fund gave them this opportunity.

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