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One more chance

The Doe Fund helps ex-inmates put their lives back on track

October 21, 2013 – THEY were out of school, out of a job – and, at times, out of hope. But Devon Greene and Terrance Coffie turned their lives around thanks to the Doe Fund, a citybased non-profit aimed at re-integrating formerly incarcerated men into society. They provided the pair with housing, a job, life skills and a new outlook. "Coming from where I came from, it just gave me a foundation," said Greene, 22, of Hunts Point, who has been in the Doe Fund's training program for the last seven months. Formerly incarcerated on attempted robbery and attempted assault charges, Greene now works as a security guard in a Doe Fund building and is poised to receive a license in energy efficient building maintenance.

Greene and Coffie are slated to speak at the Doe Fund's annual gala Oct. 24 at Cipriani in midtown Manhattan, where they will share their tales of struggle and turnaround. "They gave me a roof over my head," Greene said. "It definitely gave me a sense of hope."

The Doe Fund works with indigent men to build their job skills, enhance education and re-establish family connections. The men, known as "trainees," don blue uniforms to help spruce up the city by collecting litter from the streets. They also learn trades like plastering, painting and rubbish removal. "We offer many things, but the key core to our program is paid transitional work," said Doe Fund founder and president George McDonald. They also get training on topics like financial literacy.

"A debit card; a checking account," Greene said. "All of these things I had no idea about." Coffie, 44, spent years in and out of the prison system before joining the program and graduating in 2010. "I sold drugs for a long time," Coffie said. "When I decided to come to the Doe Fund, it was an opportunity to turn my life around."

Now a grandfather, Coffie is set to graduate from Bronx Community College at the end of the year, with an associates degree in human services. "(The program) structures your time toward something positive," Coffie said. The Doe Fund also encouraged the Harlemite to reconnect with his son, Terrengton, and his granddaughter.

"He calls me `Dad,' and the little one calls me `Pop Pop," Coffie said, proudly. "We had the conversations that were hard to have when fathers were estranged from their kids."

The Doe Fund's 2013 gala will be held Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. at Cipriani 42nd Street in midtown. Tickets start at $1,000.


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