QUINCY -- Cornerstone: Foundations for Families has named Quincy Teen Reach the recipient of its 2017 Humanitarian Award.
The state budget impasse almost forced Teen Reach to cease operations earlier this year, but, as Executive Director Dennis Williams said, the community "took care of us." Williams prefers to shy away from the bleakness of the budget stalemate, preferring instead to take a more optimistic approach when discussing the situation.
"I'm so speechless. I thought we were done," Williams said. "The biggest part for me is that it shows they see the value in what we do. We are helping the community be successful and to create successful children."
Coming from Cornerstone, Williams said the award is the one for which he will be most proud.
"The government did nothing for us, but the community did," Williams said. "The community funded us, different groups, organizations, people."
Teen Reach is a comprehensive youth development initiative for at-risk students ages 6 to 17. Students receive help and guidance after school from a team of adults and fellow students. As a result of the budget impasse, Teen Reach staff members have often been forced to go without pay in recent months. But the group has continued to provide homework assistance, talk over concerns and encourage healthy choices with underprivileged youth in the community, a Cornerstone news release said.
"It's not just a safe place, but a productive place," said Cornerstone Development Director Kate Blair. "If a student succeeds in school, they have a better chance of succeeding in life, and it breaks the cycle."
Blair also noted that Teen Reach takes efforts to instill in the students the importance of community service and giving back.
"They are instilling positive habits in these kids, helping them build the skills they need," Blair said. "They have refused to shut the door on these kids, and we felt they deserved to be recognized for that."
A nonprofit agency, Cornerstone's mission is "helping people meet life's challenges by providing the skills, support and hope needed for effective, fulfilling lives."
"The spirit of this award is embedded in our mission statement," Blair said.
Teen Reach will be honored with the award during Cornerstone's seventh annual Dancing With Local Stars dinner Friday night, which will see local dance pairs compete in a Dancing With the Stars-style event.
"Dancing With Local Stars is a great way for us to involve the community," Blair said. "It's a way for us to support each other and to encourage others."
Dancing With Local Stars will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m. and a buffet-style dinner to follow at 7 p.m. Tickets are $80, and a few are still available. The event will be held at the Ambiance, 5225 Kochs Lane.