“New Door Ventures changed my life. It helped me discover an entirely new self.”
Fresh out of high school, Qasas found himself at a stand-still. He had grown up in a rough neighborhood characterized by gang activity and frequent violence. With no skill set, motivation, or idea of what his future might look like, he began sinking into the stereotypes of youth in his neighborhood, sitting around and waiting for something to happen and getting wrapped up in trouble. He needed a job. “The more I waited, the more I felt trapped,” he said. “But I didn’t want to wait for job opportunities, I wanted to find job opportunities.”
Qasas was connected to New Door Ventures by a family friend and found a supportive community within his cohort as well as in his internship. Youth are placed in a group of fellow interns when they begin the employment program, with the purpose of forming a sense of community. “My cohort worked together and supported each other inside and outside New Door. That’s something I had never seen before. The kids in my neighborhood don’t want to support you, if anything, they want to see you fail.”
Qasas found another supportive network as an intern an animal hospital. There, he walked dogs, cleaned kennels and did laundry, controlled and comforted animals when getting shots and anesthesia, and observed minor surgeries. He built a strong interest in veterinary work over the course of his internship and his coworkers fostered his interest by sharing volunteer opportunities to further his experience in the field. Being part of an open and positive working community made room for Qasas’s self-exploration and growth.
As part of the employment and education programs, each youth participates in workshops that teach work and life skills and are paired with a case manager who supports them with personal needs inside and outside of New Door Ventures, with some youth returning months and years after program completion. “I’ve had to work hard [while at New Door],” he said. “Almost every day I’ve come to this supportive and great environment and then I’ve had to go back to my neighborhood where people try to bring me down.” The support Qasas received from his case manager allowed him to identify his strengths and interests and to plan for his future. He worked through questions that were once unanswerable like, “when am I moving out?” and “where am I going to work?” Through the workshops, he learned how to collaborate with a variety of people and the importance of time management and planning ahead. Most importantly, he learned to never give up or to stop moving. “If one bad thing happens, there will be a good one to come from somewhere else. You have to keep moving forward,” he shared.
Qasas graduated from New Door’s employment program in December 2016. He was selected to participate in a senior internship and works as a Youth Receptionist at New Door Ventures’ front desk. He greets visitors, provides administrative support to staff, and interacts with youth who are currently in program. He practices boxing, is developing a sports podcast, and attends San Francisco City College. In the fall he is moving to Southern California and applying to Morehouse College or Chapman University. He would like to earn his bachelor’s degree in sports broadcasting. In the future, he sees himself with his own sports segment show on ESPN or HBO. “I believe lofty goals can be achieved with hard work,” he closed with.