Employees of the nonprofit organization Wildcat will be cleaning graffiti and picking up trash in the neighborhoods of State Senator Tony Avella’s district for at least the next year, thanks to a $100,000 allocation the senator was able to secure in the budget.
Wildcat provides jobs to people who might otherwise face obstacles to employment, such as people who were formerly incarcerated or are coming off government assistance. They are put to work keeping the city clean.
“When you look at it in its entirety, it’s a win-win situation for everyone,” said Wildcat senior director David Saturn.
Cleaning crews will first focus their efforts power-washing graffiti off mom-and-pop businesses on the commercial strips in the district, and then begin work in residential areas.
Anyone can request to have a spot cleaned by contacting Avella’s Bayside office.
In the winter, Wildcat crews will also help with Avella’s snow removal program for seniors, which is how Avella was first introduced to the nonprofit.
Last winter, they shoveled the sidewalks in front of the homes of about 25 seniors after heavy storms.
“They did a great job,” said Avella. “As soon as the snow stopped, they were there.”
When Avella was in the City Council, he worked with another company to provide the same graffiti-removal service.
“But their equipment was all in the Rockaways, and when Hurricane Sandy hit the company was virtually destroyed,” he said.
Avella said the city has a graffiti removal program, but he said working with an outside entity is much more efficient, and crews can frequent trouble spots more often.
“It’s just a much faster way to go,” he said.
One area that will benefit is College Point.
“It's a wonderful thing when we can find help from our government to support things our community needs,” said Tony Palmer of the College Point Board of Trade.