This past Wednesday evening the historic Apollo Theater showcased
a line-up of comedians and old school hip-hop performances as a reward for the graduates of the Doe Fund's Ready, Willing & Able program.
The Doe Fund’s flagship program deals with assisting homeless individuals looking to transition to a better quality of life. Last night's celebration was dubbed the “From The Bottom to The Top,” marking not only 25 years of success for its alumni, but the largest graduate class to have completed its community improvement project.
To show support for their achievements, the Apollo brought together MTV’s Sway, Funkmaster Flex, hip-hop veterans Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, Crash Crew, the Sugarhill Gang and more who all graced the stage in front of a lively crowd.
“What they do at Ready, Willing & Able is training people to deal with those circumstances and get them on their feet and support them,” Sway said. “It’s just commendable.”
Ready, Willing & Able is one of New York’s premier transitional work programs to help prevent cycles of homeless and incarceration. Participants are guided through workforce development, job placement and permanent housing. Trainees start with “men in blue,” who can be seen cleaning the city streets daily in their trademark blue uniforms. Once completing several months on a street cleaning crew to help develop the "soft skills" of work, they are eligible to more occupational training tracks such as culinary arts and security.
“The idea is to allow them to rejoin mainstream society in the mainstream workforce,” said Director of Public Affairs Lee Alman. “For so many of them, they have never been part of the workforce or its been many years since they’ve been apart of it, so they need help getting back into the mode with training.”
Sway, just like many other celebrities in attendance, was honored to come out and contribute to a program that provides second opportunities. Ready, Willing & Able currently serves 1,000 people a day, hoping to use its recently received federal grant to serve 500 more coming out of prison over the next two years. The Doe Fund is also looking to take the program's model nationwide.
“Watching people transform to one state of being to the next, to me it’s a miracle,” Sway said. “I always felt people in our community with the right resources can accomplish anything and this program is a testament to it.” --Eric Diep