After 5 years at Youth Service, Inc., Tim Massaquoi will be moving on to the next chapter in his career. Before his last day at the agency, we had a conversation to reflect on his time at YSI, his favorite memories and what he will miss most.
Q: When did you start at YSI?
I started working with YSI as the Program Director at Youth Emergency Service (YES) in June of 2015. I met with Executive Director, Gwen Bailey and previous HR Director, Corliss Turner and had a great experience talking about changing an environment at the shelter to improve the youths’ experience and also improve systems so the staff could do their work effectively and efficiently.
Q: What roles have you had at YSI?
I held many hats during my time at YES I have been a nurse, counselor, supervisor, plumber, crisis interventionist, supportive parent, project manager, policy advocate and so many more different roles. YES challenged me to be problem solver in many situations that I previously would have never thought I would be in. YES humbled me and made me aware that there is always something new to learn and new skills to add as a professional.
Q: What did you do professionally prior to YSI?
Prior to YSI, I worked as a Post-Secondary School counselor. I worked to help young people get into college and consider their post-secondary opportunities if college was not the right fit for them.
Q: What brought you to YSI?
I originally interviewed for the Program Supervisor position because I was intrigued by the opportunity to work with youth who are underserved and vulnerable given their status as being homeless/housing insecure and youth who were in the child welfare system. I was given the opportunity to lead as the program director and create a space that was comfortable for everyone.
Q: What kept you motivated every day during your time at YSI?
The most motivating factor for me at YES was being allowed to innovate. In my experience there are many ways to work with young people. One way/size does not fit all, so as a social worker, diversity in approach is essential in building a relationship that is founded on respect. YES is a space where youth with different personalities and experiences exist all at once, so we as a staff had to develop standards of operations along with being able to adjust and try new ways to engage our youth. We tried many different approaches and even created some of our own. Those opportunities really excited me as a social worker/therapist. It allowed me to try new ideas and allowed the team to try some of their ideas to figure out what worked and what did not work.
Q: Please share a motivational quote that is dear to you.
“In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty” ~ Bob Marley. I love this line from his song “Rat Race” because in the year 2020 there is knowledge and know how all around us. The knowledge resource is abundant. If I do not know how to do something it is up to me to get the knowledge on how to do it. So if I am ever thirsty for knowledge or desire to do something and I do not go after the education it takes to learn that thing, then I am the fool and no one else is responsible for my plight.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories of YSI?
There are too many memories I have at YES. I honestly have so many that it is hard to pick one. I can say that I enjoyed creating with my team. I enjoyed staff who desired to try a new system or idea that would improve our operations and our youths experience. Seeing people invest their energy into improving the shelters overall operations was very exciting to me. It showed that they cared and they were invested. I also enjoyed building relationships with the kids. We had some of the most amazing and wonderful youth come to the shelter. I will always cherish their resiliency and their ability to focus on positive things in their lives despite their current circumstances.
Q: What will you miss most about YSI?
I will miss the staff mostly. I will miss the team and people I have worked with over the years. I will miss the comradery, the team approach, and watching people grow as professionals and their trust in my vision as a leader. I will miss the youth as well. I always said YES is a space that as a professional you can never say you’re bored because something is always happening that needs your attention and there is always an obstacle to overcome as well as a victory to celebrate. Working at YES challenged me as a leader to come up with solutions that were creative and worked for everyone.
Q: What are your plans for your next chapter?
I will be taking on the role as founding social worker at KIPP Cooper Norcross High School in Camden, NJ. I will also be starting a small private therapy practice working with individuals to assist them to overcome mental health experiences that hinder their quality of life.