George McDonald, Founder and President of The Doe Fund, Receives First-Ever Jerome Belson Humanitarian of the Year Award

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McDonald honored at Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York Gala

At its 101st Annual Dinner Gala, held on December 1st at the Battery Park City Ritz Carlton, The Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York (ABO) presented The Doe Fund’s Founder and President, George T. McDonald, with the first-ever Jerome Belson Humanitarian of the Year Award for his work helping homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals regain their self-sufficiency.

Best known for the “men in blue” of its Ready, Willing & Able program, The Doe Fund is one of New York City’s premier providers of human services, with a $50 million annual operating budget. McDonald founded the organization in 1985 in an effort to respond to the burgeoning homelessness crisis in New York City, creating programs – most notably Ready, Willing & Able – that provide paid work, training, and housing opportunities that help participants break the cycles of homelessness, criminal recidivism, and substance abuse.

“I am humbled and honored to receive an award named for Jerry Belson, the most humanitarian person I’ve had the privilege to know,” said McDonald. “Beyond his dedication to showing that affordable housing can also be quality housing, his commitment to improving the lives of others through charitable works is unparalleled,” he added.

Belson served as ABO’s President for nearly 25 years before stepping down and becoming President Emeritus this summer. His company, Jerome Belson Enterprises, manages more than 50,000 units of affordable housing. He was inducted into the New York State Builders Association Hall of Fame in 2003 and is recipient of a Public Service Award from the New York Housing Conference/National Housing Conference.

In addition to his professional career, Belson has dedicated himself to multiple charitable causes, having served as chairman of the United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, on the boards of trustees of the National Jewish Fund and Handicapped Boy Scouts, and as a director of Disabled and Alone/Life Services for the Handicapped.

A graduate of the School of Law at St. John’s University, Belson has also held a variety of positions at the school, including president of the law school Alumni Association, chairman of the Federation of Alumni organization, president of the University Council, and a member of the university’s board of trustees. Gifts made by Belson and his wife, Maxine, made possible the renovation of the School of Law and construction of a stadium on the university’s Queens campus. He hold’s the university’s President’s Medal, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, the Medal of Honor, and the Leon Finley Award, and was inducted into the Heritage Circle.

Other honorees at the ABO Gala included: New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who was named Public Servant of the Year; Fred Harris, AvalonBay Senior Vice President, who accepted the Development Company of the Year award; and Massey Knakal Realty Services Chairman Robert Knakal, whose company was named Brokerage Company of the Year.

“It’s really us who are honored by this great group, not the other way around,” said Dan Margulies, Executive Director of ABO. “George McDonald is familiar to every New Yorker who sees the formerly homeless Ready, Willing & Able workers in their blue uniforms cleaning our streets, doing building maintenance and learning job and living skills,” he added.

About The Doe Fund:

Headquartered in New York City, The Doe Fund is a $50 million, multi-disciplinary human services agency that helps 1,000 people every day to better their circumstances through programs providing paid work; workforce development and job placement; transitional, supportive, and permanent housing; drug testing and counseling; and comprehensive social and educational services. All once homeless or incarcerated, the “men in blue” of the organization's flagship program, Ready, Willing & Able, can be seen cleaning 150 miles of New York City streets every day, rain or shine. This paid transitional work is the first step they take toward self-sufficiency, and they complete Ready, Willing & Able with full-time, permanent employment, apartments of their own, and their sobriety. To learn more, visit http://www.doe.org or http://www.facebook.com/TheDoeFund, or follow @TheDoeFund on Twitter.

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Lee Alman
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