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The “men in blue” have arrived in Woodside.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) announced Monday that men from the Doe Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless and formerly incarcerated, would be cleaning some major thoroughfares in the neighborhood for the next year.
The Doe Fund regularly arranges for men going through the program to be paid to clean the city’s streets as transitional employment.
“This is a very, very good day for Woodside, Queens,” Van Bramer said.
The councilman announced the Doe Fund’s arrival at Woodside Memorial Park with civic activists and members of the business community. He said at the request of business owners who wanted cleaner streets, he set aside $31,000 of his discretionary funding to hire men from the Doe Fund to clean some streets three times a week for six hours.
The areas they cover include Roosevelt Avenue from 51st to 61st streets, Woodside Avenue from 58th to 60th streets, 61st Street from Roosevelt to 39th avenues and plazas and other areas adjacent to the streets.
Van Bramer said many commuters travel these routes via the No. 7 train, the Long Island Rail Road at 61st Street, buses or cars.
“As hard as the [city] Department of Sanitation works, it’s just hard to keep up with it,” he said.
Individuals going through the Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able street cleaning program have worked everywhere throughout the city, from the Upper East Side to Coney Island to Jackson Heights. Participants in the program are distinguished by the blue uniforms they wear.
Joanna West, director of business development and work ventures at the Doe Fund, said the program helps its participants get their lives back on track. She said most individuals would work at street cleaning for four to six months before moving to something better.
“We see it as a real win-win and we’re so delighted to be here,” West said.
The Doe Fund will be at work in Woodside for at least a year, although Van Bramer said he plans to pay for more street cleaning as long as he is a councilman.
Jack Donovan, the manager of Donovan’s Pub, at 57-24 Roosevelt Ave. in Woodside, a popular Irish restaurant known for its hamburgers, said he was grateful to Van Bramer for allotting discretionary money to the Doe Fund. He said clean streets make his business more attractive to potential customers.
“There’s nothing more important than having a clean neighborhood,” he said.
One of the Doe Fund workers cleaning on the first day was 23-year-old Alonso Young, said he has been doing his best to make the most of his situation since he began cleaning streets with the program three months ago.
“I just opened my mind to the opportunity,” Young said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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