DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- Dale Williams knows what it's like to be homeless so he's made a career out of helping people in the same difficult situation. Williams is the executive director at Midnight Run , a volunteer organization dedicated to helping the homeless.
"It's taking care of some basic needs, people being hungry, people being cold," he said. "Beyond that it's helping people be self-sufficient."
Williams, a Dobbs Ferry resident, was once homeless so he knows how a simple pair of jeans or sneakers can help change a person's life.
"It was rough obviously being homeless," Williams said. "I did drugs and just messed up my life badly. It kind of took a while to put things back together."
Williams, 50, first got involved with Midnight Run in 1989 when he met some of its volunteers on the streets. After working for the company part-time for a couple of years, Williams was eventually offered a full-time position in 1991.
Midnight Run was created in 1984 and has since grown exponentially with runs taking place several times a week from communities all over Westchester, including Hastings. These runs utilize volunteers, who have helped collect donations ranging from clothes to toiletries and food, and go out on the streets of New York City to distribute donations to the homeless.
"It's an opportunity to meet people whose life is quite different from yours in a nonjudgmental, easy going way unlike a soup kitchen where you're dealing with 150 people at one time," Williams said.
The organization was first started in the South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, but has grown to the point where it holds over 1000 runs a year now. The runs aren't just for the homeless though, Williams said the volunteers learn some valuable lessons from the experience.
"At some point on the way back someone always says wow they're just like us," Williams said. "Things that you think separate you don't separate you that much."
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