A few months ago Councilmember McDuffie announced that he secured funding for a “Clean Team” to service part of 12th Street in Brookland. The clean team program is run by the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) and includes the following services:
- Removal of litter, graffiti, illegal posters and stickers, snow and ice
- Recycling glass, aluminum and plastic items collected from sidewalks and gutters
- Maintenance of street trees through mulching, aeration, weeding and watering.
- Landscaping of planters, hanging baskets and tree boxes located in service areas
- Tracking and reporting public space defects via 311
So, you can see why we were delighted by the announcement. Months passed and we still didn’t see any sign of the “Brookland Clean Team”, so we inquired and sources then told us that there were some contractual issues, but that the program was still on. Looking out the window last Sunday morning, a group of men in blue outfits, pushing trash cans up 12th Street and sweeping leaves and trash, caught my eye. Shani went outside to talk to one of the gentlemen, who confirmed that the Clean Team has begun and mentioned the organization he works for, “Ready, Willing + Working” (RWW), a non-profit organization that provides work opportunities for homeless men. I was curious about what RWW is all about and reached out to the President of “Capital Hill Business Improvement District & Ready, Willing + Working” Patty Brosmer. She expressed to me that she was very excited that their organization was granted the contract for the Brookland Clean Team. She said that because of it they were able to add 4 more men to their work force. Here are her answers to my questions:
– When was RWW founded and what triggered the initiative?
RWW was founded in 2008 [see below for further answer]
– Who was or still is the creative and driving mind behind the organization?
Our program is modeled after The Doe Fund’s “Ready, Willing & Able” program in NYC. They’re a $55 million a year operation serving up to 1000 men per year. I am long-time friends with the founders George and Harriet McDonald and had been trying to get the program in DC for a long time. With a federal grant, they came down in 2003 when I started the Capitol Hill BID. They partnered with a faith-based organization who badly mismanaged the program – so the Doe Fund severed their ties after the first two years. We continued to contract with them hoping the situation would improve. It deteriorated further, and early in 2008 our board approved the formation of Ready, Willing & Working. We began services in March 2008.
– What are the requirements for somebody to be accepted into the program?
Able bodied men, most with histories of addiction and/or incarceration. They must be clean of drugs and alcohol to enter the program.
– How many candidates do you have and can the organization accommodate all those who like to join?
Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate all who wish to join. We currently have jobs for 24 men on 5 work sites: Capitol Hill BID; Adams Morgan BID; Barracks Row Main Street; North Capitol Main Street; and, 12th Street NE. We have men coming to our office (a trailer in the parking garage of union station – not easy to find) every day applying for jobs because someone they know told them about us and they want the same opportunities. We have quite a long waiting list.
– What can we expect on 12th Street NE in Brookland. Where and when exactly will we be able to see the RWW team?
The clean team will be deployed 5 days per week, Thursday – Monday from 7 – 3 or 8 – 4, and all but 4 holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, MLK Day)
– Is it going to be an assigned crew to the Brookland 12th Street project, or are the gentlemen rotating between locations?
Your team consists of 4 men. Antoine Walker is lead man; Clifton Mozee; Norbert Taylor; and Robert Mason. They will be regulars and you will get to know them!
– How long has the contract been awarded for? If residents like the job the RWW team is doing, who should they contact to encourage the contract to be extended?
The contract will run through fiscal year 2014 – until September 30, 2014. We would love feedback and your support to keep the contract running beyond that point. We may have to go through another competitive bidding process so community support will help! People to reach out to would be Vincent Orange chairman of the oversight committee, your councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, and Robert Summers, Director of DSLBD. Also, letting the Mayor’s office know wouldn’t hurt!
– How can Brooklanders support the RWW organization?
Tax deductible contributions can be made to Ready, Willing & Working – a 501c3 organization. They can be made online through our website: www.rwwdc.org or by mail at: c/o Capitol Hill Business Improvement District, 30 Massachusetts Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002. The service contract with the city pays their salaries and RWW provides supportive services like case management and relapse prevention; metro fare cards; meals and incentives.
Having had the opportunity to learn more about RWW, I am not only excited that 12th Street is going to be cleaned on a regular basis, but that through the service we receive, a few men are being given the opportunity to turn their life around with a job, income and the outlook to (re)establish a normal life. Please, if you see the gentlemen working their way up and down 12th Street, say hello and thank them for their work, especially during inclement weather conditions. As Patty says in her statement, please reach out to her, if you have any comments or suggestions. I am sure she and her team are willing to do whatever possible to get the job done right, and hopefully to be awarded the contract for years to come. We would like to thank our Councilmember McDuffie for making this happen and hope he is able to continue to fund the team in future years. And of course positive feedback to the DC City Council, the Mayor’s office and the DSLBD will be helpful. Here are some more information about the RWW organization at a glance: