Podcast: Back to School and Back to Work are Related at Haverhill’s Leaving the Streets Ministry

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

Leaving the Streets Ministry in Haverhill is finding jobs for youth that help them stay in school and out of trouble.

The nonprofit, which placed teens into 286 jobs so far this year, is also building a new relationship with Haverhill Public Schools’ enlarged Gateway Academy in the former St. James School on Primrose Street. Founder Jesus Ruiz told listeners of WHAV’s “Win for Breakfast” program, said jobs he and his wife Wanda find for the youth are tailor made for unusual student schedules.

“Some of our kids in the after school program, they’re going to night school. So, their school is from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. We got them a job doing hood cleaning for restaurants and they clean all their hoods for them overnight from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. They get to go home, get some rest, then wake up and just go to school. We got positions in first, second and third shifts. So, it’s truly been a blessing,” he explains.

Ruiz says the organization’s recent move from Lafayette Square, where they shared space with Ruth’s House, to 200 Primrose St. has worked out well.

“We have an after-school program now that we partner with Gateway, because we moved to Primrose Street and the new Gateway School is at Primrose. Now we partner with Gateway School. When they get out of school, we’re open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. because we learned the past couple of years that when kids were getting into trouble it was because of boredom. These kids needed a safe place to go into,” he notes.

Ruiz said Leaving the Streets Ministry started out as a grass roots organization, without grants or other funding to fill a need.

“I just saw the crimes that were going on in Haverhill. I saw a lot of youth and young adults getting into trouble, getting into fights, and in school, after school programs and gang recruitment that was going on in our city, in Haverhill, between four and five different gangs. I just wanted to make a difference—my wife and I—so we just started hitting the streets. We were just walking in the streets, building relationships, asking ‘how can we make Haverhill a better place?’”

More information may be found at leavingthestreetsministry.network.

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

Comments are closed.