Liberty Community Services in New Haven introduces new executive director
NEW HAVEN >> Jim Pettinelli, as the new executive director of Liberty Community Services, brings to the agency a three-decade background in behavioral health services and programs for the homeless.
He was introduced at a press conference Monday and will assume the position in September, replacing John Bradley, who led the organization for 10 years. Bradley left this summer for Poughkeepsie, N.Y. with his wife, Elizabeth Bradley, who is the new president of Vassar College.
Bradley will head Vassars Urban Education Institute at Vassar, where 100 college students there mentor 250 city children throughout the year.
Pettinelli has been the assistant director for the Community Research and Implementation Core at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale University for the past eight years.
Before that, he was the vice president and chief operating officer for Victory Programs, a Boston-based nonprofit offering services similar to those at Liberty, part of a long career working in community outreach, behavioral health and housing.
Mayor Toni Harp said Liberty, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, stands out among the citys nonprofits for the range of services it offers and its ability to come through with new approaches in serving the homeless, persons with mental health and substance abuse issues, as well HIV-AIDS.
Liberty always steps up and says let us give it a try, the mayor said.
She said she was also happy that Pettinelli knows how to raise money from the private sector, which is increasingly important.
I have every confidence that they will be around another 30 years, Harp said. They will be nimble and able to provide the services these populations need.
The agency provided services and housing to some 800 persons last year, Harp said.
Jim Travers, president of Libertys Board of Directors, thanked Harp for her ideas that were picked up by Liberty, specifically the RESPECT program which places some 80 homeless individuals into community beautification jobs with the help of a $100,000 grant from Alexion with the aim that half of them will obtain long-term employment.
With private donations, the Sunrise Cafe serves 170 people a day, many of whom are homeless.
Travers said the agency thrives because of the support of the community, but particularly support from the mayor.
Pettinelli thanked the larger community for helping those who are looking for that next step up. It is an amazing community that we are all a part of … really looking to provide an opportunity, an option.
Pettinelli emphasized housing as the platform that stabilizes our lives that makes us feel at home and safe and that opportunity really needs to be available to everyone.
Liberty Services has some 200 units of housing at Safe Haven on State Street and at other scattered sites.
Travers said the organization is secure in its funding for the next two years and in the meantime it will look for additional funds to expand its programs. I think what we have is a very secure base to build on, Travers.
As for expanding any programs, he said they will look at the needs and proceed accordingly.
Travers did say the Sunrise Cafe has been instrumental in establishing a relationship with people they can then work with on getting housing.
Several men, who attended the announcement at City Hall, complained about various services that they feel are inadequate.
Joseph Strain, who is recently out of prison, said he has been able to get $547 for a security deposit for an apartment, but he said that is not enough and Liberty wont give him any more.
The mayor said those funds come from the state, which caps the total. She said it is something they could take up with the state delegation.
Strain and Robert Dinuzzo both asked about using boarded up abandoned buildings in New Haven to house the homeless with the potential new tenants working on renovation.
This issue has come up before and the city has said putting untrained workers on a site is a liability, while it has no say on private property.
You makes us a liability, Strain said. I can do work.
To the degree that we can, we will. We will do whatever we can to get you the skills that you need, the mayor said.
I have the skills, Strain said.
We will do what we can, but its a competitive world we have out there, Harp said.
Petinelli said his greatest challenge will be identifying as many resources as possible to help as many people as we can.
Another individual, just out of prison, said they used to be able to get vouchers to do their laundry, but no more.
He suggested they start a laundry that released prisoners could use and run as a business and where canned goods and other necessities could be dropped off.
We are about innovative ideas, Travers said, as he connected the person with a case manager.
Another person released from prison eight months ago, said he had problems reapplying for Social Security Disability.
I have been on the street since December, he said. Im in no condition to be on the street. He also was referred to a case manager.
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Liberty Community Services in New Haven introduces new executive director – New Haven Register