More than 100 formerly homeless and incarcerated men graduated from The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program Thursday, March 22, at Manhattan’s Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. The traditional cap-and-gown ceremony marks the graduates’ completion of Ready, Willing & Able, a yearlong program that provides paid work, job training, education and social services.
Many New York City residents recognize the “Men in Blue” of Ready, Willing & Able from the distinctive blue uniforms they wear while cleaning streets and sidewalks throughout the city. Street cleaning is the first phase of the comprehensive program, followed by several months of job training, educational opportunities and other vital services. Men are eligible to graduate from the program once they have secured independent housing and full-time, private sector employment.
A gospel choir greeted graduates and guests as they arrived. Founder and president of The Doe Fund, George T. McDonald, delivered welcoming remarks. Valedictorian Craig Twiggs, who joined and excelled in the Ready, Willing & Able program after 27 years in prison, addressed his fellow graduates. The Rev. Alfonso Wyatt offered closing thoughts and prayers.
Each graduate walked across the stage in his cap and gown to receive a certificate. A jubilant cap toss ended the formal ceremony, before graduates and their families enjoyed refreshments prepared by students and graduates of The Doe Fund’s Culinary Arts program.