Meet Your Neighbor: Ozzie Araujo

My first memories of QCH are from when I was four years old.  I attended the Early Childhood Program, which was great for my parents since they both worked. When I was 11, I joined the Afterschool Athletics program. The coaches were positive role models, and they taught me to be a good teammate, to demonstrate sportsmanship, and to challenge myself.

My teenage years were a challenging time in my life. It was around then I started attending QCH’s Beacon program at JHS 190. The drop-in program model meant the doors were always open for me when I needed to hang out in a safe environment or just talk to someone. The staff took an interest in me, and when I got myself into trouble, they helped me get back on track.

In college, I needed a way to support myself, and I wanted to contribute to a mission I believed in, so I applied for a job with QCH. I had the privilege of working at the Beacon Program for six years, eventually advancing to the role of Assistant Director. The same staff who supported me throughout my teen years helped spark my interest in the youth development field.

This past Fall, I returned to QCH after having served for five years as the Director of the Parsons Community School and Beacon Director for the Child Center of NY.  Now I oversee all three of QCH’s Beacon programs. I see it as my responsibility to give back to the community that supported me throughout my life – a value I learned growing up in the QCH family.

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