There’s something Mikel would like you to know: he is striving for success.
The way he defines success now bears little resemblance to the way he did growing up in Harlem. Back then, he followed in the footsteps of the role models available to him and ended up in the same trouble they did. “I didn’t know any better. I was so brainwashed into the lifestyle.” The next several decades of Mikel’s life were measured in prison sentences. Eight years, five years, another eight years. “I kept doing the same thing over and over again, getting the same results. I had gotten so sick of it.”
When he was released for the final time, he was ready to take his life in a different direction. But how? “I didn’t even know how to get a normal job. All my contacts were from that old lifestyle.” Then Mikel learned about The Doe Fund, where he could earn building maintenance certifications. “I had worked in maintenance in prison and thought that would be the perfect job for me.” But before he could get those certifications, he’d need to spend some time “pushing the bucket.”
“I really wanted to get started on my plans, but I thought there had to be a reason why they wanted me out there with the bucket.” He was right. Street cleaning teaches Ready, Willing & Able trainees invaluable soft skills–such as personal responsibility, and teamwork–that prepare them for private sector employment. “I enjoyed it! I took a lot of pride in my work. It meant a lot to me when residents and business owners on my route said ‘Thank you for what you’re doing.’”
Mikel worked hard to obtain all the licenses he needs to continue to advance. Now he has an apartment of his own and recently joined The Doe Fund as a staff member. “I’m doing the right thing today. The sky’s the limit for me.”