Doe Fund holds graduation, giving once homeless men a 2nd chance

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- It was a special graduation Thursday night for the students from the Doe Fund.

They are seen all over New York City - formerly homeless men keeping trash off the streets.

More than 150 of them took part in the ceremony, marking another year of turning around lives for the Doe Fund.

"When I was just a little boy I learned you had to be tough to survive," said one graduate, Rodney Harris. "But being tough is painful so I learned how to hide my pain by going numb. I went numb when I ran away from home at 8-years-old."

Harris is proof that you can always come back to the light. He is the reason for believing in second chances.

For 21 years the Harlem man was in and out of prison. Then, 10 years ago, he spiraled into darkness - homeless, getting high and selling drugs.

"One night I got jumped under a bridge," he said. "They beat me so bad that my brain was bleeding. The only reason why they stopped beating me was because they thought I was dead. They was almost right. I spent the next 10 days in a coma."

But now he is on his way towards success because he was given an opportunity.

He's one of the 150 graduates of the Doe Fund's Ready Willing and Able program.

All of them are formerly homeless and incarcerated. All of them, because of this program, are now moving on with a full-time job and independent housing.

Harris found work he loves, as a security guard for the Doe Fund.

But more importantly, he says he's no longer numb.

"I cry as easy as I laugh now, and I'm not embarrassed about it," he said.

* More Manhattan news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.