The world famous Apollo Theater has hosted celebrities for more than 50 years, but last Wednesday (December 7, 2011) they hosted graduates of the Doe Fund, a charity founded to aid in finding homeless and formerly incarcerated men work and housing. The Doe Fund, in partnership with MTV, presented “From the Bottom to the Top — 25 Years of Success With Ready, Willing & Able," a graduation program for Doe Fund trainees.
MTV's Sway Calloway was the host of the event and felt compelled to support the men because he, too, had once been homeless. “I look out in the crowd and I see the graduates of Ready, Willing & Able and I see the work that the Doe Fund has been able to produce based on their dedication to improving lives,” said Calloway.
The event featured performances by old-school rappers Rob Base and Rapper's Delight (formerly the Sugarhill Gang) and legendary DJ Funkmaster Flex also came out to DJ the event. When asked why he was a part of the graduation, Flex replied, “It’s very positive. Someone just had to tell me about Doe Fund once. Putting people in the job force and giving them an opportunity.”
A recent trainee, Wayne Staton illustrated the Doe Fund’s mission of providing opportunities. “I’ve matured and I grew a lot. I say the foundation started my life. This is the beginning of my life.” The Doe Fund’s “Men in Blue” are paid to clean 150 miles of New York City streets. Stanton discussed how his initial shame at cleaning streets quickly became pride at being appreciated for a job well done. “At the beginning, I was hiding out when girls passed and then they embraced me. They respect the uniform. I thought, wow, I’m a part of this, this is bigger than me and the Doe Fund.”
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(Photos: Courtesy of the Doe Fund)