Dr. Richard Reeves
Associate Director of Intervention and Prevention, Youth Services
My journey with Union Settlement began 41 years ago when I volunteered to teach martial arts to young people after the murder of a dear friend—I wanted to help save my generation. I was hired to work as a paraprofessional and intake person with the Family Life Institute, a satellite of Union Settlement’s James Weldon Johnson Counseling Center.
Many years later, I became part of the Union Settlement Adolescent Resource Center as the Coordinator of Arts Services (Martial Arts, Dance, Visual and Performing Arts). My team and I built a strong teen program that became a home for many young people.
“With the support of great leaders at Union Settlement over the years, I have been able to develop a wide variety of programs and services to support our youth.”
During the early 2000s, I had an impactful conversation with my good friend and former Assistant Director of Youth Services, Charmaine Messiah, which led me to an important decision– returning to the seminary-university life to earn my Masters and Doctorate degrees in Human Services-Chaplaincy/Counseling and Holistic Health. She said to me, “You will be able to do it, and you need to do it! It will mean a lot later. Take your chaplaincy and human service work to another level.” With her support and that of my mother, I became a state licensed Medical Healthcare Chaplain and Professional Pastoral Counselor (ACA-New York Theological Seminary-North General Hospital).
I have served at Union Settlement in the positions of Lead Counselor (NYCHA Substance Abuse Prevention), United Way Dropout Prevention Counselor, DYCD Drug/Crime/Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor-Coordinator, NADAP Prevention Counselor, Program Coordinator, Director Of Young Adult Programming, and now Associate Director Of Intervention and Prevention Services. Through my roles, I’ve had the opportunity to provide prevention services to over 400 students per year for six years. I was asked to train 60 probation officers in how to work with high risk youth and to present at the Department of Probation’s professional development day for two years because of my experience at Union Settlement.
“Seeing many of the young people I mentored become professionally successful is one of my greatest personal and professional achievements.”
I’m proud to have had my family stand by me as Union Settlement staff: My wife Dawn Reeves, Lead Instructor for ECE, and my two daughters Danielle and Michelle, former dance instructors in our BRIDGES program.
I’m truly grateful to have been recently chosen to receive President Biden’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service alongside other passionate individuals in public service.
It has been a long and life-changing journey. I am thankful to Union Settlement for supporting me throughout all of the challenges, changes, successes, and failures—they have made it possible for me to help save generations for 41 years. I was recently chosen alongside a group of individuals in public service to receive President Biden’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service, and I am truly grateful. I want to continue helping to create stable prevention and intervention services for East Harlem teens and young adults, and mentor other youth and young professionals. I hope to serve and develop the next generation for years to come.
If you’re passionate about serving East Harlem and giving back to the community while developing your professional skillset, join our team!