Last week, Otilio “O.T” Quintero, a founding member of CJNY and long-time youth violence prevention advocate, announced his departure from Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos. O.T. joined Barrios Unidos in 1992 and has since worked on growing Barrios Unidos in its efforts to improve the lives of youth of color in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, through supporting community-based organizations in preventing gang violence. We send much respect to our elder, guide, and friend as he transitions into new opportunities.
Below is O.T.’s announcement in full.
To all my Familia and Friends,
When I came to Barrios Unidos in 1992, I was looking for a way to give back to my community at a place that was working to prevent violence against youth by promoting cultura (culture), education, leadership and economic-development. I have a love for serving my community by advocating for equality and change. I knew Barrios Unidos would be the right place and the right job. But I could never have ever imagined all the things we have been able to accomplish and what it has meant to be here.
It has been an honor serving and working with communities, public/private agencies, legislators, international organizations, and our children and adults in prisons and detention centers. I’ve learned so much during my time with Barrios Unidos and have had the opportunity to help create local, state, and national policies that promote social justice for the voices that are often unheard by society.
During my journey at Barrios Unidos I have not only had the opportunity to help build the vision and capacity of the organization, but also the chance to be a part of the history of Barrios Unidos. Not only were we able to build an organization, but now the country looks to Barrios Unidos as a leader in the Social Justice Movement.
All of this work does not happen alone- it takes friends, partnerships and collaboration. I’ve been privileged to work with colleagues and friends within the organization and beyond who have collectively created its vision and invested themselves in building the foundation for its success. Barrios Unidos has traveled a long way over my nearly 25 years here – and is poised for even greater leadership ahead. However, I will continue to stay involved with Barrios Unidos and serve as a consultant to provide continued support for the organization.
I want to give my special thanks to you, my colleagues and friends (too numerous to mention), who I’ve met and worked with in the trenches during my time with Barrios Unidos. Your passion, dedication, and strength continue to inspire me as I transition to the next phase of my life.
There is so much I want to share with you, but most of all my love for your spirit, commitment, and your help in walking with me on this journey called Barrios Unidos. I am looking forward to new opportunities and will continue to work for Social Justice, but will always be grateful for my time with Barrios Unidos. Thank you for your support that has made this vision become a reality.
One of the lesson’s I have learned on this journey is that “There is no such thing as Coincidence; Coincidence is the act of the Creator in absence.” This journey has been filled with so many Coincidences, I am so humbly grateful. All My Relations…
Otilio “O.T.” Quintero