UTEC’s New Haverhill Youth Workers: Curbing City Violence Is a Team Effort

UTEC's Miguel Quinones, left, and Jonathan Lunde joined Bill Macek on WHAV's Open Mic Show in 2018 to discuss their efforts in Haverhill. (WHAV News file photograph.)

UTEC’s Miguel Quinones (left) and Jonathan Lunde joined Bill Macek on WHAV’s Open Mic Show to discuss their efforts in Haverhill. (WHAV News photograph)

As Haverhill grapples with four shootings in the last six weeks—three of them fatal—members of the city’s new violence prevention outfit UTEC are firing on all cylinders to keep the community safe.

In an appearance on WHAV’s New Open Mic Show With Bill Macek on Monday, Jonathan Lunde and Miguel Quinones explained that the outreach group has developed a team approach to address violence in Haverhill.

“It’s going to take all of us. It’s all about us becoming one, all of us chipping in,” said Haverhill Program Manager Quinones, adding that UTEC is working with Mayor James J. Fiorentini, the Haverhill Police Department and agencies including Community Action. “At the end of the day, it’s like the saying goes: It takes a village to raise a child.”

While Haverhill reels from alleged gang-on-gang violence, Lunde wants residents to know that although UTEC often works with gang-involved youth, their mission goes much deeper.

“We do a lot of work with men who are gang-involved, but at the end of the day, we like to think of young people as young people,” said Lunde, who serves as UTEC’s director of streetwork.

As an alternative to the streets, UTEC welcomes youth ages 17-25 to participate in their workforce development and social enterprise activities available at 35 Warren St., in Lowell. Once their Haverhill satellite office opens this summer, residents may take advantage of activities in both locations.

The UTEC group vows to leave no struggling young person behind—gang-affiliated or otherwise, said Lunde. In fact, when the group welcomes a new youth, their interaction can last a lifetime.

“One thing we never do is tell anyone to leave a gang. I’ve never done that in 10 years. That’s not my decision to make,” he told WHAV. “That does happen sometimes: You take someone from the street and put them into programming and maybe it doesn’t work the first time, but we never give up on people. At UTEC, we give people unlimited chances to change.”