Former Homeless Man Helps Current Homeless Teens

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Courtesy New York Daily News

Courtesy New York Daily News

A former homeless man is doing his best to assist the homeless youth of New York City.

Jamaican immigrant Orayne Williams, 24,  grew up homeless and alone on the streets of Brooklyn. While he could have easily become nothing but a statistic, Williams lived in shelters and was able to overcome his upbringing and graduate high school as valedictorian. He moved on to John Jay College with a full scholarship, graduating last June with a 3.7 GPA.

After college, Williams desired to help those still on the streets, telling the New York Daily News, “I know what it feels like to be homeless and I know what it feels like to receive help from case managers and social workers. I’ve learned how to navigate the system and I want to help other homeless people move forward.”

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Williams now works full-time at the Women in Need Shelter run by former New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate, Christine Quinn. He helps families residing in the 146-room East Harlem facility transition into homes of their own.

Courtesy New York Daily News

Courtesy New York Daily News

Quinn, who met Williams after seeing a speech he gave upon his gradation from high school, said of him: “He exudes this sense of strength and optimism when he’s really never had all that much to be optimistic about. He hasn’t just survived homelessness but he’s thrived, and he’s framed his life around giving back to others.”

In addition to his work for the shelter, Williams has his own nonprofit called the Progressive People’s Movement. The organization aims to raise money to provide school supplies to homeless students, as well as provide coaching for students on how to succeed in gaining college acceptance.

Williams expanded on his desire for the Progressive People’s Movement, saying “I couldn’t have survived without help and now I’m in a position to help. I want young people to know they don’t have to do it alone.”

The organization is holding a happy hour fundraiser July 22 at Lucky Jack’s Bar & Lounge in Manhattan, as well as accepting donations on their GoFundMe page.

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