Homeowners still struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy express thanks this holiday weekend to an unusual group of volunteers who continue trying to help them. NY1's
From sanding and hanging dry wall, to painting and sweeping, fixing up houses trashed by Hurricane Sandy takes time and skills.
"I've learned how to paint," said 16-year-old Dasha. "There's a technique."
Dasha, 16-year-old Raven and others are learning tangible and intangible job skills.
"If you don't have a positive attitude, I don't think you're going to get hired," Raven said.
They each want to work. Maceo, also 16, wants it all.
"I want to be a millionaire. Who don't?" he said. "But I just want to make something out of myself," he said.
He's come a long way. They all have. None will say exactly what they did, but they each got in trouble with the law.
"I had intensive probation and regular probation," Maceo said. "So it was like I had double the trouble."
Homeowner Margaret McNulty thanked their probation officer for the help. With her house flooded and no savings, she reached out to Friends of Rockaway. The nonprofit took care of the carpentry, plumbing and the electrical work, and them turned the rest over to the New York City Department of Probation.
"That drastically reduces the cost of the rebuilding," said Todd Miner, the director of Friends of Rockaway.
"After Sandy hit, we started thinking, 'Our young people shouldn't just be bystanders in this recovery process," said Vincent Schiraldi, commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation.
The Probation Department put more than 500 of roughly 10,000 juveniles and young adults to work.
"They're the ones that tend to get re-arrested the most frequently," Schiraldi said.
Probation officers pick those trying to turn their lives around, and a grant pays the teens about $1,500 for roughly two months of weekend labor.
"The money always makes a difference, but of course, we're here to help people," Maceo said.
They're now saying the right things and doing the right things, a change not lost on McNulty.
"I feel like I have angels watching over," she said.
Some neighbors were concerned about having teens around who have been in trouble, but more than anything else, they were hopeful that this will help them turn their lives around.
The Department of Probation is looking to expand the program.