NY1 Report – Not-for-Profit Helping Homeless Individuals Gets a New Home in LIC

This computer class is hard at work, while taking steps to get back to work. The students have overcome hardships to be here. Some used to be homeless; others like Anthony Antoine are in treatment programs.

“What they’ve helped me do here is prepare my resume, dissect it a little. Get it updated,” said Antoine.

The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless or ACE provides job training programs, work experience as well as counseling and mental health treatment.

“ACE is like a family. It applies to business side of the things but it’s a family thing. And they teach you not to ever give up on life,” said Delvon Sewer, a graduate of the ACE program.

ACE graduate Delvon Sewer now works in Long Island City cleaning the streets. He was once homeless, now he has an apartment and a new lease on life.

“It feels wonderful. I can’t complain, you know, I don’t do it for the paycheck. I just do it to put a smile on people’s faces because they like it,” said Sewer.

ACE recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and moved to a new headquarters in Long Island City. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer provides more than $100,000 in funding for the group, to employ street cleaning workers in his district.

“We’re training; we’re providing jobs, providing income, providing stability and actually working one-on-one with these individuals, who are well on their way,” said Van Bramer, who represents the area.

Organizers say Long Island City is the perfect location for the new headquarters because of nearby employment opportunities and more space for programming.

“People know that they are welcome here and that the space kind of echoes that. Plus it gives us the opportunity to have movie nights and different events for our graduates,” said Elizabeth McNierney, the director of programs for ACE.​

Video and report courtesy of NY1

NY1 Report – Homeless New Yorkers Get Back to Work by Cleaning Jackson Heights Streets

As Robert Perez helps to beautify Jackson Heights, he’s getting a chance at a clean slate.

“Before I came to this program, I was a mess. Legal problems, I was homeless. I had really no hope,” said Perez.

Perez is referring to the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless or ACE. It’s a work experience program designed to give homeless people a new lease on life.

Perez says getting paid to clean the streets helped raise his self-esteem.

“I didn’t care before, now you know I want to do something good. I’m an older guy, you know they say it’s never too late, but it gets to be a little too late. But they’re giving me hope,” said Perez.

It goes beyond just employment. ACE also offers job training and certifications.

“Things they’re going to add to their tool box, their employment toolbox it’s going to make it easier for them to transfer from this job street sweeping, to something higher paying and a little more competitive,” said Jim Martin, the executive director of ACE.

State Senator Jose Peralta gave ACE a $75,000 grant Friday. It’ll be used to hire two workers, to clean the stretch of Roosevelt Avenue between 82nd Street and 90th Street. Peralta calls it a win-win for the workers restarting their lives, as well as the community.

“It improves not only first impressions of visitors that come here in this area, that are many that come and eat at our ethnic restaurants but at the same time, it helps those individuals who live here and make them feel proud to see that our streets are clean,” said Peralta, who represents the area.

That’s pride Perez can certainly relate to. He says he’s become more aware of what littering does to a neighborhood.

“I’m a proud New Yorker and I want the city to be clean. It looks a lot better,” said Perez.

And Perez says, thanks to ACE, his future looks a lot better too.​

Video and report courtesy of NY1

Latricia’s Comeback Story – You Helped Latricia Find the Rainbow After the Storm

Latricia participating in a custodial maintenance training

Latricia grew up as an only child and from an early age her family noticed her gift for helping others. By the age of nine, Latricia was volunteering to spend her free evenings and weekends caring for her sick aunt. “I just liked helping older people,” she remembers. Latricia made it well known to her family that she would grow up to become a nurse.

By junior high school, Latricia was also a star athlete, excelling as the point guard on the basketball team, in track and field, and cheerleading for the football team. She was her family’s joy and no one could have predicted the devastation and trials that were just ahead.

“Why did THAT happen to me?”

Latricia at Graduation

When Latricia was 12 years old, her family moved from North Carolina to Newark, New Jersey. It was there that, at the age of 13, Latricia was sexually assaulted by a distant relative. “Immediately everything was different,” she recalls. Her passion for helping others turned into constant anxiety. She stopped playing basketball, running track, and cheerleading. Within a year of the assault, Latricia began experimenting with alcohol and marijuana. A young teen, incapacitated by her trauma, she spent countless sleepless nights asking the question, “Why did THAT happen to me?”

“I was at my bottom. So many demons. I just wanted to stop, so I went to get treatment and things started to turn around.”

At 16, Latricia dropped out of school and the next 30 years of her life were heavily influenced by substance use. During those times, there were joys, like the birth of her daughters, but there was always great instability.  At times she had a job and at other times she didn’t. At times she had a place to stay and at times she was homeless.

For the sake of her family, Latricia finally decided to take a stand and face her past. “September 8th, 2015,” Latricia remembers, “I was at my bottom. So many demons. I just wanted to stop, so I went to get treatment and things started to turn around.” In her treatment program, she heard about ACE and felt moved to sign up.

“At ACE, I learned how to use the computer.”

Latricia with a bright smile at an ACE event

“At ACE, I learned how to use the computer” she recalls, “how to interview, how to have enough patience to go out and clean New York City streets.  ACE helps a person that’s down on their luck and doesn’t know which direction they’re going.”

Latricia spent four months building her experience in ACE’s initial program, Project Comeback. She attended classes, worked on sanitation crews, and met with ACE job developers to find employment leads. She began going on interviews and in September 2016 she landed a job as a housekeeper at a hotel in New Jersey. A week after becoming employed, Latricia used the money she saved from ACE’s work experience training to move into her own apartment.

Most important of all, Latricia is now restoring the bonds with her daughters and mother that were strained during her years of instability. “My kids are grown now,” she says. “I just had a grandbaby. At ACE, I kept a smile on my face because I knew that if I stuck with it, something good was going to happen. There’s going to be a rainbow after the storm.

From Homelessness to Happiness

From Homelessness to Happiness from ACE Programs for the Homeless.

We posted this video one year ago following Herbert, Ricky and Donnell. We are proud to say Herbert has been employed steadily since July, 2015. Ricky has been employed since September 2012, has completed Project Home, and has been promoted to a Supervisor in his workplace. Our last check-in with Donnell he had remained employed for a full two years from graduating Project Comeback.

Steven – Faces of ACE

“My time with ACE was probably my best experience because it brought me back into reality. My worst time was probably around 5 years ago because that’s when all my legal situations started. It just went down hill. In my teenage years, I was hanging with the wrong crowd. I guess when you’re at that age, you want to be accepted; everybody’s doing the wrong thing and I went along with it and I’m paying for it now. Here’s my advice to new ACE participants: No matter how much you dislike the work, how much you dislike going to classes. Just remember it’s about becoming a member of society and gaining a work ethic. In a month from now, I’m going to getting an apartment with my fiancée in Brooklyn or Far Rockaway. I’m expecting my first child soon too, so it’s crunch time.”