We received a call from the County Executives office with a clean-up request for our Hire Ground Crew. The job was to clean up around the campus of the old Shoppingtown Mall.
Things looked pretty dark for Shoppingtown when, after years of stores and shoppers abandoning Central New York’s first shopping mall, it closed its doors in March 2020 and was acquired by Onondaga County.
But its prospects for a new life brightened last summer when a group of four Central New York companies agreed to purchase the vacant property for $8 million and invest at least $300 million in redeveloping it for housing, entertainment, restaurants, and hospitality, retail and office space.
Seven months later, the county still owns the vacant mall. But Ryan Benz, the developer who is leading the redevelopment effort, said the group is still working hard to make it a reality.
The Hire Ground Crew is up for the task and will do what we can to keep the outside grounds looking good for the residents of the area. These opportunities give IMFK moments to show our friends that they are needed and valuable. These jobs give our friends a sense of dignity even though they are still struggling with the chaos going on in their lives. We are believing as our friends beautify the community that their lives will also start to turn around. Its all about a hand up, not a handout.
We meet so many friends on the streets during outreach who panhandle. 95% of our friends who panhandle have a serious addiction going on in their lives. We never judge our shame our friends, we instead love and encourage them to make positive choices, one option we present to them is our HIRE GROUND PROGRAM. What is Hire Ground you may be asking?
Hire Ground is a collaborative partnership with the County of Onondaga and is an IMFK outreach to the unemployed homeless and panhandlers in the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County.
The “Hire Ground” program gives panhandlers and the unemployed homeless in Syracuse and Onondaga County an opportunity for change in their lives by offering work experience through day labor and connections to needed support services.
Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, the Hire Ground van picks up nine individuals at various locations throughout the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County. Once they complete the intake process the Hire Ground team transports our friends to job sites to work on beautification and other various projects. These projects include but are not limited to, picking up litter after a concert at the St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater, building picnic tables for the NY State Fair, and picking up trash from area parks and roadways.
In addition to working a five-hour shift and receiving a $50 stipend, Hire Ground feeds them breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the day and provides transportation back to the pickup locations. We have served over 450 panhandling individuals to receive A Hand Up, Not A Handout. Our Care Managers connect participants to service providers in the Housing Coalition of CNY, as well as the Department of Social Services. Without this collaborative effort, serving the needs of our participants would not be possible.
It all starts with street outreach a lunch a kind word an an opportunity! Together with your support we are Building Hope and Changing Lives
Last week while doing street outreach a young couple approached our outreach van asking for money. I let them know we do not give out money and asked if they knew about In My Father’s Kitchen and pointed to the van. They said they were new to the area for only three weeks and didn’t know where things were. I explained how we assist folks gave them a wonderful lunch and proceeded to ask more questions. They were able to share with us that they were living outdoors in a tent and that the young lady who was 25 years old was also two months pregnant. I asked if they would like to go to a shelter and they refused. They were in town because of a domestic situation back in their hometown and they do not feel safe returning. We highly encouraged them to go to the shelter and Doc recommended to them that he could put in a referral to an OBGYN. The young woman was so appreciative, that we were able to stop and pick her up some prenatal vitamins as well. She also expressed that she was not on the medication that she needs to be taking so Doc called in a script and filled her request. They shared with us the location of their campsite where we have been able to visit them over the last ten days. Little did they know who they were approaching to panhandle they thought they were asking for money but what they received instead was unconditional love with no judgment. They received guidance food medical attention but far greater they received Relationship! Thank you for your continued support of the work we are doing in Central NY, together we are building hope and changing lives. We will continue to move forward with our new friends and do whatever it takes to make sure they get safely indoors. Our new friends know that they are NOT INVISIBLE!
We met Alton living outdoors with his girlfriend Sam in July of 2019. We would see them every week with clothing, food, and medical attention from Dr. Lehmann. They would both be participants in our Hire Ground work program as well and showed great work ethic throughout our workday. We were able to assist them both into housing in November of 2019 just before the snow started to fly in Central NY. Who would have known that a pandemic was about to be unleashed around the globe the following March of 2020, can you say rescued just in time! We have been in constant contact with both of them and we were informed that they are expecting a child (a little girl) in August of this year. This past week we were contacted by a local Cementary that they were in need of a groundsman. We immediately that about Alton, set up the interview and we are excited to say that he was Hired! He started on Friday, May 13th full time making $13 an hour. What a story of redemption, your continued support of our mission makes opportunities like this possible. We have the best Sous Chefs (supporters) anyone can ask for. We will be posting a wish list for baby items as this precious little girl is on the way. Together we are Building Hope and Changing Lives
John and Leigh Ann
Lunch is a Big Part of finding out someone’s story! Food brings people to the table where real conversation happens. One of the great things that happens on our Hire Ground workdays is relationship building. During lunch, the defenses go down which creates opportunities for our Care Managers to dig a little deeper into someone’s story. Today we had lunch at the Brady Market located on Gifford Street in Syracuse. As you can see from the video below that the quality of these meals is incredible. We have learned that meeting someone’s immediate needs opens opportunities for our friends to ask for assistance in other deeper challenges. Food is a powerful tool in our arsenal and with your continued support, we are making a difference in the lives of those who feel Invisible!