Clean Streets Team provides 1st jobs for people just released from prison

Three years ago, Tarshia McCoy finished serving her jail time in D.C. and Maryland for ammunition and marijuana convictions. She tried to find work once she was released, but her criminal record made finding employment a difficult task.

“I was basically again shut down. You apply for a job, and then they put you back 10 steps, [then] push you back 10 steps further,” McCoy said.

That is until McCoy met Paul Winestock walking through her D.C. neighborhood. He was hiring for his Clean Streets Team. As someone who spent more than two decades in prison for drug convictions, Winestock knew the struggle McCoy was experiencing.

“It was a journey for me, so I said, let me take that initial step and open some doors for other individuals,” Winestock said.

After his release from prison in 2013, Winestock said he had a vision for how he would change his life for the better. Since then, he has opened several businesses, including a restaurant in Northeast called His & DC and an events space location called Fun It Up.

In addition to growing his businesses, he also decided to dedicate his life to helping others who are going through what he went through — being out of prison and without work.

“It’s hard for a returning citizen at times that has that conviction,” Winestock said.

Winestock first began the Saving Our Next Generation program, which provides resident training and employment opportunities through his organization. Then, after being awarded contracts from the city, he began a Clean Streets Team that, using city funding, not only employs citizens entering the community, but also members of the LGBT community, he said.

Even when they don’t wind up working for him, Winestock said he tries to mentor people reentering society.

“Because sometimes in life, you know, you just want to be heard, or you need somebody that can listen to you and give you some good and positive advice,” Winestock said.

McCoy said Winestock has helped her immensely, uplifting her and supporting her over the years.

“He’s a great man,” McCoy said.

Rodney Elmore, 58, spent 20 years in prison for robbery. He was released during the pandemic and wanted to work, but he said he couldn’t find a job. Then his niece told him about the Clean Streets Team.

He said at first he was shy, and that he could find a job doing something other than cleaning the streets. But his feelings later changed.

“It’s an opportunity for me. I can grow from it and I have, you know what I mean? And I’m willing, and I want to and it feels good,” Elmore said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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