22 Jan Voices From Our Community: Natalie Levinson
Natalie Levinson doesn’t recall exactly when she first became a supporter of The Doe Fund, but she very clearly remembers why. “I saw the Men in Blue cleaning my neighborhood and I thought, ‘What a wonderful idea.’ I went up to them and said, ‘Thank you for what you are doing. We really need this and we need you.'”
Over time, she learned more about Ready, Willing & Able’s Community Improvement Project and discovered that every day hundreds of formerly homeless and incarcerated men are transported to locations throughout the city to “push the bucket”. They sweep over 150 miles of city streets, improving the quality of life for New Yorkers and rebuilding their own lives in the process.
Impressed and inspired by the street cleaning operation, Natalie decided to make an extraordinarily generous contribution to help The Doe Fund purchase a much-needed fleet of new vans. Thanks to her gift, six vans were added to daily operations.
In October, The Doe Fund celebrated its annual Gala and Natalie was a special guest. A Doe Fund graduate picked her up in one of the vans made possible by her gift.
“It was just wonderful, being picked up by Francis and getting to know him. Everyone should encourage and support these men. This program gives them a future and makes them feel that they are worth something and that they can be something. They become family men, they get good, decent jobs and discover worthiness in themselves. They become role models to their children.”
Natalie confesses that she loved riding in the van to and from the Gala. “I had never even been in the front seat of a van before! That was the best part of the evening to be honest,” she laughs.
“America needs The Doe Fund,” Natalie says emphatically. “We have to think about how to expand this program to other cities. People there should stand behind this. If The Doe Fund goes national it would be so exciting. It would benefit communities everywhere. Every week, I read in the New York Times about joblessness, hopelessness. It is never too late. We need solutions like Ready, Willing & Able.”
And, as RWA celebrates 30 years of accomplishment in 2020 and looks to provide leadership in the future, we need partners and friends like Natalie.