A Message from ACE’s Executive Director –
With 60,350 New Yorkers in Shelters, We Need Your Help
Recently, the New York City homeless shelter census reached 60,350 men, women and children.
With your help, ACE continues to take extraordinary steps to meet this ongoing crisis head on. In June, we opened our new state-of-the-art workforce development facility in Long Island City, doubling our participant capacity and tripling our computer learning terminal access.
We have increased our outreach to communities in need throughout the city, offering paths to a better life for hundreds of New Yorkers each year.
We also expanded our industry specific training program. Beyond our existing offerings – credentialing in OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health) General Industry, OSHA Construction Safety, OSHA Supported Scaffolding, OSHA Flagger, Janitorial Maintenance, Food Protection, and Forklift Operation – we now offer Basic Green Construction, a 40-hour course in green carpentry and environmentally friendly building techniques, that covers electrical and plumbing basics.
In addition to our credentialing program, ACE continues to offer to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness the very best in vocational services, including adult education, job-placement assistance, computer training, individualized counseling, financial literacy coaching and paid work experience training.
On behalf of the men and women of ACE, thank you for everything you have done to help us rise to meet the homelessness crisis. Your continued support this fall will make it possible for ACE to offer hundreds of homeless New Yorkers a proven, comprehensive program that equips them with the tangible skills necessary to leave shelter life behind!
Please read Erik’s incredible story below and see how lives are being changed at ACE everyday. Thank you for your commitment to our mission and to the men and women we so proudly serve.
Locked Up in Rikers Island at 14 –
Erik’s Story in His Own Words
My name is Erik. I grew up in a poor neighborhood on the Lower East Side of New York City in the 1970’s. My father was an alcoholic, so my mother raised me by herself. It was rough for me back then.
“When I was 14, I got locked up for selling drugs. I was sent to Rikers Island.”
I started drinking and smoking when I was 13. It’s hard, as a child, to know what’s right and what’s wrong, which is what I was—a child. I didn’t understand that being a productive part of the community meant you worked hard and paid taxes. I wish I knew that. I had no one to teach me back then.
When I was 14, I got locked up for selling drugs. I was sent to Rikers Island. It was scary. On one hand I wondered, Am I going to make it through this? On the other hand I thought, If I make it through this, everyone on the street will respect me. I was confused, with no one to guide me. After serving eight months, I was released and given five years probation.
“I took the time to sit down and work things out. I thought, Do I want to die in here?”
I was arrested several more times over the next few years and found myself in and out of prison. It’s hard to do the right thing in prison. In society, if you break the law, you’re an outsider. In prison, if you do the right thing, you’re an outsider.
Finally, finding myself locked up on yet another drug charge, I realized something had to change. I made a conscious decision to end the cycle. I took the time to sit down and work things out. I thought, Do I want to die in here? I realized how badly I was hurting my family, my daughter, myself. At last, I understood, I was hurting society. Selling drugs hurts people.
I was released from prison in 2016, but I didn’t have the trust of my family. My daughter wanted to help me but she was scared that I was going to go to prison again. She thought, He’s been to jail, he’s been to institutions, and only death is left for him. I needed something to show me the way.
In early 2017, a counselor at a New York City homeless shelter referred me to ACE. At ACE, it was like I had finally found myself. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions, I didn’t feel like I was going to be judged. The people at ACE worked with me to build my confidence and that made me want to work harder. Some days, I worked so hard that my fingers hurt, but it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to give back to the community that I had hurt in the past, and I just worked really hard. It paid off because I eventually got hired as a full-time sanitation worker.
“I have a job, I have my own apartment, and I have my family back in my life.”
ACE has changed my life, it really has. I enjoy my job, and I like the people I work with. I wish the same for everyone who comes to ACE. If I can do it, anyone can do it. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
I wake up every day and I thank God. I have a job, I have my own apartment, and I have my family back in my life. My daughter tells me, “Dad, keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working.” She’s really proud of me now.
There are more hard working men and women like Erik making their comeback right now. Make a gift today at acenewyork.org, and take part in their incredible journey to economic self-sufficiency.
You Helped 45 More New Yorkers Overcome Homelessness
On Thursday, September 28th, hundreds of ACE supporters gathered to celebrate the achievements of 45 new program graduates. Each graduate addressed the audience and shared important milestones in their personal journey to economic self-sufficiency. They reported using the skills they acquired during their participation in ACE’s 4-6 month program to find employment in the fields of hospitality, maintenance, food services, social services, transportation and more.
ACE Graduate William Lester, who is now employed as a construction worker said, “ACE pointed my life in the right direction and guided me to where I can navigate my own way now.”
At the end of the ceremony, graduates formally became members of ACE’s employment retention program, Project Stay. Project Stay will support them in maintaining employment, increasing their earning power and transitioning to independent living.
ACE Executive Director James Martin said, “Tonight, these folks celebrated overcoming the many barriers faced by those experiencing homelessness in this city. They will be heading to work tomorrow instead of to a homeless shelter or program. Today, they are in a better position to take care of themselves, their families and give back to their communities. They are proud of that, and we are proud of them.”
Since 1992, ACE has helped over 2,800 individuals secure employment. ACE’s new headquarters, the ACE Center for Workforce Development, opened in Long Island City, Queens on June 27th of 2017.