NYer Of The Week: Doe Fund Volunteer Helps Men Get Their GEDs
NY1's latest New Yorker of the Week is helping people who've been out of school for decades finally get their high school diploma.
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After more than twenty-five years of drugs, alcohol, and living on the streets, Craig Hall says it was time for a change.
"I opened my eyes one day," Hall says. "I was 57 years old, and I had nothing to show for my life."
Hall was placed at The Doe Fund, a transitional service program for men, through the city's Department of Homeless services. On the top of Hall's list was getting his General Equivalency Diploma.
Volunteer Karen Gray is helping him do just that.
"Craig has always been one of our stars," Gray says. "He has an incredible drive to succeed and pass his GED."
"I always wanted to go to college," Hall says. "I always wanted to finish my education. But I was afraid, because I was 57, that it was too late"
Gray takes time after her full-time job with the auction house Christie's to tutor men like Hall in math, reading, and writing in a twice-weekly GED class. Sometimes she works with them one on one.
"It's encouraging them and letting them see their full potential," Gray explains. "Just because of something they may have been told in the past, that doesn't have to affect what they can do in the future."
Gray has been tutoring for the past two years.
"I met Karen and her team and they started breaking things down from a real low-grade level, and gradually brought me up to a point where I could see I can actually get this now," Hall says.
This year Gray took things a step further and got Christie's to make the Doe Fund its charity of choice.
"She not only gives of her service time, but she believes enough in our program that she presented it to her co-workers too," says Doe Fund program director Nazerine Griffin.
Gray even organized 20 of her colleagues to volunteer this summer to do mock job interviews with the men. And this month, the Christie's mentoring program plans to work with the men again.
"Sometimes she'll come in real, real tired and I can see that she had a hard day," Hall says of his work with Craig. "But she still finds the time to come in and do the job to help us advance to the levels that we wanted to do."
And so for helping men to achieve their goals, Karen Gray is our New Yorker of the Week.
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