Hire Ground finds more than day work for panhandlers and homeless


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) It’s only been in operation since mid-May, but the Hire Ground program is finding big success addressing the homelessness and panhandling situation in Syracuse.

The program, with support from Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse, is designed to offer day work to panhandlers and the homeless in our community.

Founder John Tumino says the van that picks up people is not just about taking them to and from day work, but also gives his team the ability to engage with this population.

He says it allows caseworkers to help people buy into sobriety if they need it, or get them to go to see a doctor for mental health or other services for their own well being.

Tumino also says it allows his team to do some vetting to see who might be ready for steady employment.

“That’s always a dream in the back of my mind that we could get folks connected to employers eventually and have their own jobs, I never thought it would happen as quick as it has,” he tells NewsChannel 9.

“My main objective was to prove to him that I’m worthy of employment,” says Othelia Vaturina.

Tumino says after talking with Vaturina he knew the man they call “O” was ready for employment.

“John just made the introduction for an interview. I sat down with “O”, we had a really nice conversation. I interviewed him like I would interview anybody,” explains Paul Messina, Co-Owner/Operator, Apizza Regionale.

Vaturina says, “Once Mr. Paulie said I was hired I was very, very happy. They welcomed me like family.”

Right across the street from Apizza Regionale is Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue which has hired two people from the Hire Ground program.

Managing Partner Susi Stein says, “I think there’s nothing wrong with giving people another chance and I’ve had really good luck with it so far.”

In all, seven people who’ve come through the Hire Ground program have been hired for steady work.

Click here to learn more about Hire Ground.

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