Van Honors Decades of Service

When long-time board member Jim Stevens heard that our decades-old medical van was in need of major repairs, he thought of a solution that would be a perfect way to honor his friend and fellow board member, Alan Belzer, for his 28 years of service to Project Renewal. Alan accepted under the condition that Jim’s 19 years of service also be honored. Together, they have graciously donated “The Alan and Jim Van,” a state-of-the-art medical van.

The new van will be the flagship of our mobile medical program, which now serves over 4,400 homeless and uninsured people annually, six days a week at 18 locations citywide. Between this program and our shelter-based clinics, we are the largest provider of health services for New Yorkers who are homeless.

“The van will be a fitting tribute to two people who have played an important role in Project Renewal being the citywide organization it is today,” said Project Renewal President & CEO Mitchell Netburn. “Through their tireless efforts, Alan and Jim have helped countless men and women who are homeless renew their lives and reclaim hope.”

Alan’s commitment to fighting homelessness started in the 1980s, when he saw scores of people sleeping on the streets of Manhattan. “It was terrible,” he says. “I would walk around saying to myself ‘this is the richest city in the richest country in the world. I have to do something.’”

When Alan heard about Project Renewal’s goal to expand services to include supportive housing for mentally ill, homeless New Yorkers, he knew it was the kind of innovative organization he wanted to support. Alan, along with Daniel Brodsky, helped lead the fundraising effort to buy a vacant lot in Midtown West, to build the Clinton Residence. The development opened in 1990 and continues to provide housing and comprehensive services to men and women who are chronically homeless and suffer from mental illness.

Jim’s compassion for people who are homeless was also fueled by what he saw in his neighborhood. In the 1980s and 1990s he lived near Bellevue Hospital and every night witnessed homeless men entering the psychiatric ward. It didn’t take much for Alan, who was chairman at the time, to convince his friend Jim to join the Project Renewal Board.

“What appealed to me was Project Renewal’s holistic approach to helping people in need, with healthcare, recovery and support services, job training, housing, and more,” Jim says. “The new van will be a key part of that mission by bringing quality care to people who wouldn’t otherwise have the resources to get it.”