As close-knit Rockaway communities continue to tackle the physical and emotional toll left by Superstorm Sandy nearly two years ago, it was announced last Thursday that one patch of the peninsula is getting a helping hand from the Men in Blue cleaning crew.
Thanks in part to discretionary funding provided through City Councilman Eric Ulrich’s (R-Ozone Park) office, Doe Fund workers will provide supplemental trash pickups and street cleaning services to Beach 116th Street twice a week. These homeless or formerly incarcerated men, clad in bright, blue jumpsuits, receive job and career-development opportunities from The Doe Fund through a year-long transitional residential program.
“All of us at The Doe Fund are incredibly proud to renew our commitment to District 32 and support Councilmember Ulrich’s vision of a cleaner, safer, more prosperous community,” said George McDonald, founder and president of The Doe Fund and former Republican candidate for mayor. “The ‘men in blue’ who will service this beautiful district are taking the first steps towards restoring their lives and reclaiming their place in society. We’re so grateful that, thanks to Mr. Ulrich, they get to do it here.”
Ulrich allocated $21,000 for fiscal year 2015 to help fund the additional sanitation service, according to his spokesman.
“This program is helping revitalize one of Rockaway’s main commercial strips,” said Ulrich, who, along with McDonald and community leaders, made the announcement last Thursday. “The small business owners here embody the heart and soul of the peninsula. They’re resilient, hard-working and provide dozens of jobs to local residents. I’m glad to do my part to keep the streets clean and support them.”
Beach 116th Street business leaders said the importance of cleanliness cannot be overstated.
“The merchants on Beach 116th Street have worked hard to rebuild their businesses for the last two summers since Sandy. Thanks to their collaborative efforts, the commercial corridor looks better than it has in years,” noted Krzysztof Sadlej, executive director of the Beach 116th Street Partnership. “All of the merchants in Rockaway Park will benefit greatly from the additional financial support allocated by the City Council to put additional Doe Fund crews on the street to provide supplemental maintenance on Beach 116th Street. Keeping our corridor free of litter, and welcoming to the community and to guests, is crucial to the continued success of our main shopping corridor. The Beach 116th Street Partnership is grateful for the continued collaboration and support from Councilman Ulrich’s office and the city’s dedication to keeping Rockaway and Beach 116th Street vibrant and clean.”
By Michael Cusenza