UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — They keep the city green and clean and you see them year around at various parks. The Green Keepers are a special group given a life-changing chance at starting fresh.
The Green Keepers are hard at work at the Broadway Malls keeping them beautiful for all to enjoy. Goddard Riverside's Green Keepers employs people with special needs. Deborah Kaplan, director of employment at Goddard Riverside, says she manages a special group.
“The people we work with are people who've had a lot of struggles with homelessness, mental health, substance abuse and a whole lot of barriers," she said.
They get on the job training for the year in horticulture, watering, planting and street sanitation, but they receive so much more. Kaplan says employment gives people hope.
Brandon, who has been working for Green Keepers for the last three years, says this job took him off the streets and changed his life.
“It just gave me a sense of respect for life, doing the right thing and you know working hard, paying taxes and just living like everyone else is living," he said.
Another benefit is new friendships and making a connection to the neighborhoods they work in.
Goddard Riverside’s executive director says they serve the entire lifespan of New Yorkers from twinkle to wrinkle.
“Our goal is always to make investments in people so that we strengthen the entire community in New York.”
And in doing so with their Green Keepers program, they are also investing in the beautification of our city.
Goddard Riverside not only provides the Green Keepers jobs, but they help their employees with benefits, housing and budgeting their money.