Reaching out into the Community and Responding to Crisis: Dean and Max

Reaching out into the Community and Responding to Crisis: Dean and Max

After years of street outreach work, Peacebuilder Dean Jones has developed a sixth sense for identifying high-risk youth. Through years of relentless outreach and relationship building, he has also built a reputation on the streets as somebody that youth can trust.

When Dean first encountered Max on the block, he was 17 years old. His father was incarcerated, and he lived at home with his mother and two younger siblings. Max had become disconnected from school; he carried weapons and had dangerous affiliations. Dean considered him among Hartford’s highest-risk youth.


Dean knew Max needed a caring adult in his life, someone he could trust, someone who could provide him with the necessary tools to make positive change.

When Dean approached Max, Max already knew Dean’s reputation. Dean spent time listening to Max and started to build a trusting relationship. They would meet on the street corner by Max’s house, speak on the phone, or grab a bite to eat. Once Max trusted Dean, the hard work began.

Dean worked with Max to help him identify his thoughts, emotions, and the behaviors connected to those emotions. Together they set goals and an action plan on how to reach those goals.

Max wanted a job. To reach that goal, he needed to develop skills that would help him in the interview process, and once he got a job, help him keep the job. Together they worked on building those skills.

Today Max has a full-time job. Every week, when he gets his paycheck, he is proud of what he has accomplished. Max’s next step is to reconnect to school, graduate from high school, and work towards a post-secondary degree.

Read more about how COMPASS Peacebuilders help Hartford’s youth