After more than a decade as chief executive officer of New Haven Youth & Family Services, Doreen Quinn still found a way to push her organization into new realms in 2010, and plans do the same again next year.
As the CEO of New Haven and its North County Trade Tech High School, she provided education, job training and housing to more than 100 adolescent males. It was her 13th year with the organization. Trade Tech High, a public charter school providing career technical education without districting boundaries, is now in its third year.
Along with 30 community volunteers, New Haven succeeded in delivering its major project this year: fully renovating the oldest of the 12 homes the 30-year-old organization uses to house at-risk youth.
“Our model for both organizations isn’t just doing projects for projects’ sake, but for service-learning projects,” she said.
As its next major service-learning project, the group has partnered with the city of Vista to build a home for a low-income family.
Vista donated land for the home. Members of the local construction industry will donate their time and expertise.
New Haven, meanwhile, has submitted a federal grant to make this a keystone project for the organization.
“Students will work alongside trade instructors and industry professionals to build a home,” she said. “This would be the signature project for our students.”
After opening to ninth graders in 2008, Trade Tech has added incoming classes each successive year, and now serves ninth through 11th graders.
The low-income home would be a three-year project.
She said the organization has also embarked on a multiple-month strategic planning process. It would like to expand its outpatient, wrap-around and transitional foster services.
“We want to serve our youth that are aging out of foster care in a transitional program,” she said. “We want to reduce the likelihood of kids receiving out-of-home placement if they do come to us. We want to increase the likelihood of staying home with wrap-around services.”
Quinn and the rest of New Haven have succeeded in engaging the community in the cause, she said.
“Certainly the economy has affected fundraising, but people still want to give, still want to support our work,” she said. “People want to give, but they can’t give money. An electrician can come in and give pro bono work. We did a $150,000 remodel and it was all from in-kind donations and pro-bono work.”
That generosity doesn’t go unnoticed from the youth, Quinn said, further emboldening the organization’s community-strengthening platform.