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November 23, 1993
Good time to thank heaven for little pearls

by Jack Newfield
On the eve of Thanksgiving, it seems fitting to give thanks to some of New York's unsung heroes and heroines.

My purpose is to celebrate quiet altruism in an age of exhibitionism, to appreciate long-distance runners in an era of sprinters.

George McDonald is the real Saint of Fort Washington, not Danny Glover.

McDonald has been helping New York's homeless population for 12 years. His contribution has evolved from advocacy and free sandwiches to providing direct service by running the remarkably effective Doe Fund, named after a homeless woman who froze to death Christmas Day 1985.

McDona1d's philosophy is "work is therapy, work is better than welfare or panhandling." Since 1990, he has been running Ready, Willing & Able, a job-creating program based in Bed-Stuy. In this program, formerly homeless men rediscover the world of work through job training and drug counseling while they rehabilitate vacant, city-owned apartments.

Last year, only eight of the 108 participants in the program tested positive for drugs after graduating -- although 95 percent had histories of substance abuse.

Sixty percent had criminal records, but not one has been arrested since passing through McDonald's job therapy.

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