Wildcat Service Corp. has been sprucing up our neighborhoods since August. They offer services such as removing graffiti, sweeping sidewalks, emptying trash baskets, taking down illegal signs, and now that we’re going into winter, they will also be clearing sidewalks of snow, and shoveling snow at the homes of the elderly.

Wildcat was founded as a nonprofit in 1972, employing approximately 8,000 people a year, with a focus on ex-offenders and the previously incarcerated with little work experience, giving them job training and helping them move toward stability. These “Transitional Employment” opportunities provide hands-on training under close supervision. For many participants in the program, this second chance offers them what they need to change their lives.

Most of the workers employed by Wildcat come from a lifetime of poverty, have been homeless, are dependent upon public assistance, and/or come from criminal justice backgrounds. This program provides them with the tools they need to get out of the cycle of poverty and become more productive members of society.

There’s a wise adage that says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The City Council offered funding for this initiative and it’s a powerful illustration of teaching the less fortunate how to fish. This program betters their lives, while beautifying and improving our community at the same time. Council Member Holden will look into expanding it next year.

For more information on Wildcat, you can visit their website at www.wildcatnyc.org.