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May 31, 2022 17 mins

Marcellie Bellinger cleaned up the streets of Yonkers, NY – literally. He takes his job as a Ranger seriously, and brings his infectiously optimistic work ethic everywhere he goes. 

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Speaker 1 (00:07):
Welcome to On the Job. This season, we're focusing on
how people and businesses are getting back to work. Let's
call it a great transformation, a change in the way
workers are thinking. Employers need people to work more than ever,
putting laborers in a sort of position of power. We'll
be hearing from people navigating this new normal for themselves
as they find their life's work. Today we talked to

(00:32):
someone who has never not been in a great transformation.
Marcelli Bellinger lives in Yonkers and is almost maniacally dedicated
to improving himself, which eventually landed him in a job
where he supervises people all trying to do the exact
same thing. Okay, all right, thank you very much for

(00:57):
talking to I appreciate it. Thank you so much for
me for this episode. I had the pleasure of talking
with Marcelli Marcelly Bellinger. He was fifty seven when I
interviewed him back in March. Birthday comes next month on April,
which I would turn fifty eight. He's a very sprite
fifty eight, and he's a very busy guy. Are you
talking to me in the middle of a workday right now? Yes?

(01:17):
I am. As a matter of fact, yes, I am
and uh. Marcelli was born and raised in Yonkers, where
he works now as a Grayston Ranger, and his job
is to take out the trash to make sure that
yonkerstays as clean as we need to make it, no
question about it. Okay. So the Grayston Rangers is a

(01:39):
really amazing transitional workforce program designed to keep Yonkers clean.
Grayston is actually a bakery founded in nine two with
the goal of hiring anyone who wanted to work, no
background checks, no resumes, and in the two thousands they
started programs like the Rangers to create more jobs and
make Yonkers a better place to live. My job title

(02:01):
is Rangers Development Program Manager. I've been a manager right
now for exactly four months, but prior to that, I
was an actual worker for eight years. As a manager,
Marcelli oversees the Rangers as they spread out through the city,
drive routes and clean up the streets. A lot of

(02:21):
people sometimes see us and the first thing that goes
through their mind is this is such an easy job.
But I'm here to tell everyone it is not an
easy job. I never assumed trash collection was an easy job,
but the way that Marcelli describes it, his job is
like a big game of chess, with the street maps

(02:41):
being his board. You need to be strategic about your routes.
You need to have some serious hustle, and you're battling
the elements all the time. You have to be a
quick thinker. Every day is a different day. It's not
the same routine. It may be the same route, but
it's never the same routine. A big part of this
is that the Rangers, in their fluorescent vests, have become

(03:02):
a huge part of the Yonkers landscape. They're constantly interacting
with the community, getting people involved, talking with them and
spreading the ethos that Grayston and the Rangers are founded on,
and believe it or not, they start to catch onto
it as they see as work in every day and
the Grayston Rangers. It's a truly immersive program that helps

(03:24):
workers to get to a place of self sufficiency in
every part of their lives. So in addition to cleaning
the streets, Marcelli is always helping his workers out with
housing issues, putting together resumes, and finding other work. So
the Rangers is a place you go when you want
to get on your feet work and you need a
hand to get that started. And whatever the situation is,

(03:47):
we're gonna assess that and we're gonna try our best
to work a solution now for you. Marcelli is infectiously
positive and exudes Grayston's mission of teaching self improvement, upward mobility,
and second chances. He's even got one of those inspirational
office posters behind him in the interview, I'm going to
read it to you. My story is continuing, no punctuation.

(04:17):
After talking with Marcelli for a bit, it feels like
he's always been an inspirational poster in human form. Again.
He grew up in Yonkers. His parents were both really
hard workers. That was a mechanic. So I was well
on my way to being that type of worker, you know,
because I saw my father working hard every day. I
saw him doing the things that he had to do
to take care of his family, and I adopted that. Also.

(04:39):
In high school, he was a very serious athlete, pushed
himself hard. He ended up going into the Army after
seeing their commercials about bettering yourself and thought boot camp
might be challenging. I wanted to work out be the
best that could be, So it wasn't like a patriotism,
Go America. Oh nah, you wanted to do push ups?
You wanted to That's all I wanted to do was

(05:01):
make myself better. That's that's that's the only thing it
was about. He quickly moved up the ranks in the army,
then got out in worked at a T and T
as an operator. Then he switched gears to do a
more physical job with his uncle's business. And I started
doing moving, being a relocation engineer, because that's what they
called them now. They're just not a mover, and that's

(05:23):
exactly who I am. You know, you want to pick
up that a little bit. So I became a relocation engineer,
and I got good at it. I got very good
at it. I got so good at it that I
did it for twenty years. He got married, had two kids.
In the early two thousand's, he got a job at
the local power plan. He and his wife had just
had their third child, and the night before MARCELLI was

(05:45):
going to start this new job, there baby passed away
in his sleep. It was obviously an unspeakably horrible moment,
and Marcelly remembers how his new boss at the power
plant was human. He cried I cried, and he said,
Marcel listened, Go take care of your business. He said,

(06:07):
do what you have to do. Your job is still here.
Do not worry about your job. Don't you even think
about this job. They sent flowers to the funeral, give
him as much time as he needed. Before he even started,
Marceli was being treated as more than an employee. I
caught a lesson from that that you have to treat

(06:28):
people in a certain way. When you show your kindness
and you show your heartfelt loyalty to somebody, you always
get a back. And from that day that's what I
planned to do. I said, I'm going to treat every
person with respect and dignity. He worked there for a while,

(06:53):
then he was a concrete inspector, then back to relocation engineering.
He liked moving around and doing new stuff, so into
thousand and fourteen, his friend told him about a program
that Grayston put together for veterans. He was telling me
about a range of program and I said, oh, you
mean the bakery, and they're like yeah, I said, yeah,
I used to work there. I used to do a
little part time over there. Of course he did. Marcelli

(07:17):
went into Grayston to hear about the job and found
that it was a trash collection program, and in the
interview he was asked if he had any problems cleaning
up the streets, but he said he wanted to work.
He needed to feed his family. He wanted to be
physical and outside. And he thought about this question with
the mantra that his dad imparted to him early on
whatever job you do, be the best at what you do,

(07:41):
because people are going to see you. He said. It
may seem like the lowliest job in the world, he said,
but I guarantee you someone's going to see you. When
we come back from the break, Marcelli gets seen a
strong work ethic, takes pride in a job well done,

(08:03):
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(08:26):
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(08:47):
Express knows jobs. Get to know Express. Go to Express
pros dot com to find a location near you. Back
to Marseli story. He went into interview at Grayston for
the Rangers job, but the interviewer was late. Marcelli was patient,
and after two hours the guy shows up pretty surprised

(09:09):
that Marcelli was still there. When he brought me into office,
he asked me about myself. I told him a little
bit about myself and he stopped me in the middle
of it and said, you really stayed for two hours.
I said, yes, sir, when you want what you want,
you have to stay and wait for it. I said,
you can't lose your discipline. I said, I'm a very

(09:30):
disciplined person. And he said, you know what, you got
the job just like that. Just like anything he'd done
till then, he wanted to go above and beyond, move
up in the ranks and be challenged, and he definitely
found that challenge coming into this job. Yonker's avenue at
that time was drop off garbage City of the Capitol, mattresses,

(09:57):
old furniture. This that which did it was a mess
that's why the Rangers was put together a few years earlier.
So he immediately went at it with his team and says,
the streets looked completely different in two weeks, cleaned everything
pristine to where now two weeks. In two weeks kind
of taken care of to where now we can just

(10:19):
do our usual cleaning and it's not a problem. The
Younker's landscape changed quickly, and Marcelli was noticeably the guy
out on the streets making that change. One day, he
was out on one of his routes and a car
pulled up. Guess who's in the car. The Mayor of
Yankrews rolls down his window and he says, listen, I

(10:40):
just want to tell you you're doing a phenomenal job.
What's your name, Marcelli Bellinger. He said, I'll be seeing
you soon, rolled up his window, went right on about
his business. A week later, Marcelli gets invited to city Hall.
The mayor shakes his hand in front of the assembly
and as him a letter of accommodation, and he tells me,

(11:03):
because of you, I'm gonna make this a job with
the city. Because of you, the Grace and Rangers have
been funded by grants to start out. Now, the mayor
agreed to fund the program through the city. Marcelli picked
up more routes on the other side of the city
where he lived, so everybody seeing me everywhere. Somebody would
see me even aren't you the guy that clean? Yes,

(11:25):
I am, that is me, you know, and he was like, Wow,
you do a damn good job, man, I see you,
I see you. Eventually he became supervisor, the position he
still holds today. And all I kept doing every day
was making our routes better. How can I do this
to make this more effective? Have my community see that

(11:48):
it's clean, and how can I involve them in the
clean up. As he and his team go around, they
talk to people say, if you can clean your storefront
or in front of your apartment, we can spend more
time cleaning the parks in the streets, to the point
where now it's part of the community routine that everyone
does their part. So those are the things, like I

(12:09):
said before, that when you put a hundred percent into
it and you get involved with that community, those are
the things that happened. Those are the results that happened.
Those are the things that happened, because after you do
a great cleaning for them. They want to see it
clean all the time. Marcelli has simply helped make Yonkers
a better place to live. The community has pride in

(12:30):
the Rangers and what they do in cleaner streets, bring
in more business, get people out and about more. We
had little children that came up every day and said, listen,
can I use your picker? Can I Can I help
you with the picker? Cannot. So it wasn't a thing
that we were like, hey, can't get out of here. Now,
you don't know. We turned right around and I would

(12:50):
bring extra pickers. Listen, here you go right before you
go to school. Come on, do you think by bringing
in the kids to what Grayston and the Rangers are
doing with the foundation, they brought the parents in two
families all got to know Marcelli by name, and he
got to find out more about their lives, what they needed,
if their housing was okay, if they needed work or
help putting together resumes. I speak with everyone. I talked

(13:14):
to him, ask them how they're doing, still working, not working?
What are you doing? Oh? I'm not doing anything. Listen,
you need to come to twenty one Park Avenue and
come see me listen, we got jobs. Everything up. They
come see me. Since I've been the manager, we have
created at least thirty jobs. We have thirty people working

(13:35):
right now. How does it feel now that you have
transformed the space that you grew up in? It feels great.
It feels that I've accomplished what I needed to accomplish,

(13:57):
but I know I still got more road to go.
Marcelli doesn't really have an off button for his self
improvement drive, and that's what he's passed on to the
people he works with. Every day before work, he has
meetings with his team and he asked them what can
he do for them? Their family? They're my family, and
I want to make sure that when they go out,

(14:18):
there's nothing on their minds to inhibit their work. A
happy worker is a great worker at worker that has
no problems. It's one of the best worker you're going
to ever see because there's nothing on his mind but
the work itself. And at the end of every day,
he makes sure to tell everyone he's working with one thing.
I say thank you. I'm so appreciative of their work

(14:41):
because I've been there so many times nobody told me
thank you, So every day I make it a point
to tell every one of my people, thank you so
much for just doing what you do. You make me.
I don't make you, you make me. Marcelli might seem

(15:03):
like one of those cheesy inspirational posters in human form,
but that's because he actually operates by the mantras that
most people pretend to live by. And it makes a
difference when you come across someone who actually lives their
lives like that or does their daily job with that ethos,
no matter what it is they do. And if anyone

(15:23):
thinks that sounds cheesy or unrealistic, or questions that one
person thinking like that can make a difference, just walk
down Yonkers Avenue and take a look around. Ask the mayor.
I think there's a stigma against people who have worked
as many different jobs and careers as someone like Marcelli has,
like they can't lock down one or stay the course,

(15:46):
always in transition. But why stay a course? Marcelli has
transitioned so many times because he's never wanted to stop growing,
despite any hardships that you assume would stop him or
anyone us right in their tracks. And the workers he
supervises at Grayston are people just like him. Humans in transition,

(16:07):
just trying to be better. And if that means that
one of his workers finds other opportunities and moves on
from the Rangers, he's proud of them. Listen, don't think
that because you whin it got a better job, that
I'm feeling mad at you, that I'm some sort of hater.
I don't drink hate to ration. I don't drink hate
to raid. I don't do any of that. What I
do is I'm proud of you for taking another step

(16:32):
towards your goal. There's no roof. Don't make a roof.
There's no roof. Whenever you think that you hit the ceiling,
guess what, it's some more and more wrungs that you
gotta go up in. This season all about the great
transformation we're going through. That's what I took away from MARCELLI.

(16:53):
Lean in and keep transforming. It's literally all we can do.
Stick to the goal of just being better her for ourselves,
and just keep going. Once you lay the blueprint, just
follow the blueprint, and it'll all makes sense to you
at the end of the day because you will receive
the prize that you need to receive. You know, no punctuation,
No punctuation. That's it for on the job. I'm a discray.

(17:27):
To learn more about Grayston and the Rangers program, go
to Grayston dot org. Thank you for listening.
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