Funds Replenished, Doe Fund Cleaners Return To F.H.
by john toscano
After a five-month absence, fresh funding has been found to bring back the Doe Fund street cleaning crews to clean up and spruce up Austin Street and Continental Avenue in Forest Hills, City Councilmember Melinda Katz announced last Friday.
The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able initiative, hired by the Austin–Continental Merchants Association, ran out of cash to pay for the $38,000-a-year street cleaning contract, which debuted in the area in 2000.
Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce members, local property owners and merchants all kicked in their own funds in a drive sparked by Katz. In addition, Katz contributed $5,000 from personal discretionary funds provided by the council, to each of its members, and Assemblymember Michael Cohen (D–Forest Hills) matched the amount with funding secured from the state.
At a press conference last Friday on Austin Street. Katz was joined by George McDonald, Doe Fund founder and president; Leslie Brown, Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce member; Cohen and state Senator Toby Stavisky.
Katz took the occasion to present each merchant who contributed funds with a window sign which indicates they financially supported the effort to bring back the Doe Fund.
Katz told those present, "We are thrilled that the guys in Ready, Willing & Able are going to be back in Forest Hills to keep our neighborhood looking spectacular. People tell me all the time how much they appreciate the work that they do, and how good they feel knowing these men are taking strong steps towards turning their lives around."
Brown said, "I am breathing a sigh of relief that we have the Doe Fund street-cleaning crew back. Clean streets are good for business."
The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able Community Improvement Project is a street-cleaning initiative that empowers, employs and supports homeless individuals in their efforts to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society.
Katz summed up the reactivation of the Doe Fund program with the comment, "This is truly a neighborhood program which the entire area will benefit from."