Podcast: Leaving the Streets Ministry Saw Success Finding Jobs for Youth at Risk in 2020

Jesus Ruiz, president and founder of Leaving the Streets Ministries. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The year 2020 was a good one for a relatively new, independent, social service organization focused on helping Haverhill youth at risk.

Leaving the Streets Ministry, founded by Chaplain Jesus Ruiz and his wife Wanda, is working to redirect young people in danger of becoming high school drop outs, or choosing a life of gangs and drugs that could lead to prison.

“All we really want to do is serve the community, serve the broken, serve the youth that have backgrounds, that have records, kids that don’t have families. They’re broken, pretty much. Give them a chance of employment, a chance on a place to live that through resources they are able to get a chance move forward in life, and not be stuck in this gang world,” he says.

Ruiz says the year 2020 was a success in finding jobs for so many young.

“I’m so excited of the opportunities that God has been providing. We actually got 250 jobs this year. We have so much work and that’s through the COVID. It’s just been amazing. We broke our record from last year which was at 167, and last year we didn’t even have the center,” Ruiz says.

The Leaving the Streets Ministry Center is at 117 Lafayette St., Haverhill. Ruiz says it makes it easier for people to come in the build their resume, create a cover letter and put them on a path toward employment

“We don’t just want to get them a job, we want to get them a job they’ll be comfortable with. Certain individuals, certain high-risk youth that we work with—they need to be placed at a certain job. We get kids from all different backgrounds, kids that suffer from depression, kids that have certain anxieties, kids who can’t stand still so we try to find the right employment for them. We are actually up to 250 jobs and we have over 40 positions available. A lot of the positions we get are in the Haverhill area, like Ward Hill—a lot of warehouse jobs, restaurant, assembly line equipment, factories. The owners work with us on giving these young adults a chance just to move forward in life,” he says.

And along with helping find employment, Leaving the Streets Ministry also helps fight food insecurity – and assisted Santa Claus at Christmas

“We were driving around the city, passing out gifts to families that were struggling financially. So many families we were serving. They were just so grateful, and tired of the life they were living. It was just so amazing to watch the fire inside of them just leaving the gang world, leaving the street life and wanting to do better. Just a chance, you know, and it’s just like I tell them, ‘I’ll give you a chance to move forward in life but it’s up to you what you do with it.’”

There is more information at LeavingTheStreetsMinistry.network.

Besides WHAV.net, WHAV’s “Merrimack Valley Newsmakers” podcasts are available via Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Alexa.

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