“We answered the homelessness, and drugs and destruction on our streets with opportunity. And, in the process, the people we served healed themselves, their families, and transformed our neighborhoods"
New York, NY (PRWEB) November 16, 2015
New York City-based nonprofit organization The Doe Fund celebrated three decades of providing economic opportunity to formerly homeless and incarcerated men and raised more than $2 million in support of its transitional work programs at its annual gala benefit on October 29th at Cipriani 42nd Street.
The event’s 500 guests included some of the most notable names in philanthropy, entertainment, and city government including Good Morning America correspondent T.J. Holmes, who served as the evening’s host and emcee; Richard Schaps, CEO of Van Wagner and chairman of The Doe Fund’s Board of Directors; actor Rockmond Dunbar; celebrity auctioneer C.K. Swett; ARISE News anchors Lola Ogunnaike and Shannon Lanier; publicist Marvet Britto, and others.
The organization’s 30th anniversary comes as New York City grapples with record homelessness and the nation’s criminal justice community faces the dual crises of mass incarceration and the return home of thousands of individuals from prison.
In his landmark 30th anniversary address, The Doe Fund’s founder and president, George T. McDonald, emphasized the role of economic opportunity in addressing the country’s new social and civil rights challenges, saying, “We answered the homelessness, and drugs and destruction on our streets with opportunity. And, in the process, the people we served healed themselves, their families, and transformed our neighborhoods. Thirty years later, the children of our poorest communities have had their fates sealed and their paths to prison prescribed. Unless we are outside that system, offering a hand up, we will lose another generation of fathers and brothers and sons.” (Full remarks available at blog.doe.org)
Harriet Karr-McDonald, Executive Vice President for the organization, echoed that sentiment. “[The men in our program] demonstrate that work truly is the solution to poverty, homelessness and incarceration - and they stand as a model for the nation. We can break the cycle of fatherless children, of violence and generational poverty— your support makes it possible.”
Richard Schaps, Chairman of The Doe Fund’s Board of Directors, reflected on The Doe Fund’s enormous impact on civic life. “We know that the path a trainee takes to get to our program is often dark. But through the promise of opportunity and work, that path is transformed from a long, dark descent into a journey forward and upward - to a good and whole life. And our city has become safer, cleaner, and a more just place because of it,” said Mr. Schaps.
The evening was punctuated by stories from graduates and current trainees in The Doe Fund’s programs, including Nazerine Griffin, who was an early graduate of Ready, Willing & Able and now serves as Director of the Peter Jay Sharp Center for Opportunity in Brooklyn. Mr. Griffin led the evening’s toast along with the organization’s longest serving staff members. “The truth is, The Doe Fund saved my life. It promises that if you come here, and work hard, you can change your path. Thirty years of making and keeping promises like that is much more than just a job to all of us - it’s the meaning of life,” said Mr. Griffin.
Ready, Willing & Able graduate Lawrence Wade and current Young Men’s Program participant Angel Lopez also shared their journeys.
“When you’re born poor, you look for money. When you’re born powerless, you look for power. And when you’re born without both - prison starts looking for you,” said Mr. Wade, who entered Ready, Willing & Able after serving 32 years in state prison. “This program was my off-ramp. Not just from prison and back to the world, but from all the mistakes that charted my course from the streets to a cell. Becoming free has been a lifelong journey for me. And it was at The Doe Fund where I got the chance, the opportunity, to finish that journey,” said Mr. Wade.
Angel Lopez, who grew up in foster care, recalled his time in the shelter system and the transformation that took place through The Doe Fund’s Young Men’s Program. “I had become what everyone told me I was - nobody. Then came The Doe Fund. I became a part of something good, something bigger than myself. And by being part of something good, I found goodness in myself. I realized that all I needed was an opportunity to be more than where I came from.”
ADDITIONAL EVENT COVERAGE:
ABOUT THE DOE FUND
Founded in 1985 by advocate George T. McDonald, The Doe Fund provides life-transforming services, supportive and transitional housing, and economic opportunity for formerly homeless and incarcerated men, disconnected young adults, and people living with AIDS.
Through its pioneering work in social enterprise, including the acclaimed Ready, Willing & Able program, The Doe Fund reduces recidivism, improves the quality of life in city neighborhoods, and fosters permanent economic independence among its clients.
Known throughout the city by their distinctive blue uniforms, The “men in blue” of The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program clean more than 170 miles of New York City streets and sidewalks as part of a year-long program of recovery, personal and professional development, and economic advancement.
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