New Day Labor Program Offers Work to Panhandlers


panhandlingStarting May 1st, panhandlers in Syracuse will have the option to go to work instead.

A new program run by John Tumino of In My Father’s Kitchen (IMFK) will offer people the opportunity to earn $50 a day at a day labor program instead of soliciting money on Syracuse street corners.

The program is called Higher Ground. Earlier this month Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and  Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon announced they awarded the contract to run the program to Tumino who has been working with homeless populations in New York State since 2011.

Tumino plans to pick up eight people every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and drive them to a selected worksite where they will work for five hours and receive lunch and a $50 stipend.

Tumino has a history of helping the homeless. In 2011 he and his wife Leigh-Ann founded IMFK,  a faith-based organization offering non-denominational and non-discriminatory assistance to homeless people through direct street outreach. As John and Leigh-Ann build relationship s with chronically homeless individuals they identify and meet the unique needs of homeless people not yet ready to leave the streets and who refuse to stay in emergency shelters.

Their website says “ IMFK provides food and basic necessitates to homeless individuals where they live on the streets, on a consistent and compassionate basis, until the homeless individual is comfortable accepting help and working with community agencies to secure housing.”

IMFK has one full-time employee, one full-time volunteer, 30-35 core volunteers, and as many as 60 volunteers for community events.
The program’s budget is $200,000. $180,000 is being provided by Onondaga County. Tumino says he had to raise the other $20,000 with donations from a board member, Richard Lester, who owns Ziebart and Roger Burdick, President of Driver’s Village.