Graffiti removal, helps more than the community

Autistic volunteers from Quality Services for the Autistic Community apply primer to a long-graffitied wall at 2936 Wilkinson Avenue during one of 12 cleanups funded by Assemblyman Michael Benedetto. More cleanups are planned in the near future.

Quality Services for the Autism Community, a day habilitation program for young people living with Autism, is changing lives and cleaning neighborhoods.

Through a $10,000 grant from Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, QSAC was able to establish a graffiti removal program that allows their members to interact with society while also alleviating a community burden.

“I thought I’d be able to kill two birds with one stone,” Benedetto explained about his passion to help those living with special needs. “QSAC is a model program right in this area, so I wanted to wed their program with a major neighborhood concern.”

Monday through Thursday, the group dedicates approximately an hour and a half for their Community Inclusion Program, which allows QSAC’s men and women to be an integral part of society.

“Having some of our participants work on graffiti removal is another vehicle for us to get involved in the community and give back to the area we spend our days in,” QSAC community coordinator Bill Stolfi stated.

Though it’s been active in other parts of the City since 1978, this October marks QSAC’s third anniversary in the Bronx with the graffiti removal program about to complete its first year. 

With approximately 60 participants and more than 30 supervising staff members involved in the graffiti removal program, Stolfi said the benefits are visible now more than ever.

“They talk about it for a long time,” he reiterated about the participants’ excitement after completing a project. “They just have this good sense of accomplishment about it.”

Benedetto said he’s glad he could help.

“Thus far they’ve performed admirably,” he commented. “People see what they’re doing and they have to be happy.” 

The assemblyman explained that whenever a call comes in for graffiti removal, he knows exactly where to direct the request.

“It’s a win, win situation because they get the extra help and we get community inclusion,” Stolfi said. “We’ve been doing the green drop-off mail boxes and blue mail receptacles on street corners in and around the Pelham Parkway area.”

Since the program’s inception, one year ago, Stolfi said the QSAC graffiti removal team has successfully cleaned more than a dozen locations throughout the Bronx.

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