About 10 years ago, the 129-year-old Family & Children's Association decided to hold its own feet to the fire. "We had to ask ourselves a question, 'How come we haven't had much of an effect on the Village of Hempstead, where we've been working for so long?' " said president and CEO Philip Mickulas, 69.
The staff decided to extend its human service work beyond children and family services into the community at large, with a holistic mission to protect and strengthen Long Island's most vulnerable citizens and their communities.
They made it easier for people to get "wraparound" services to help them through everything from drug addiction to homelessness to job searching.
Mickulas began his career by working 18 years as a New York State parole officer and parole administrator before heading into the mental health and human service field in 1986.
What's the biggest game changer for a kid's future?
Having a reliable adult presence in their lives. That's why we try to develop appropriate mentoring relationships for the kids that we work with.
Studies show up to 47 percent of foster children are unemployed within a year of aging out of the system. What are the challenges?
They don't have some of those things we assume people get and develop in a normal course of growing up in a stable family . . . the 'soft' skills [of] getting to work on time, dressing appropriately, handling constructive criticism.
Why did you develop a junior board?
They are ambassadors to the community, and that's what helps in fundraising. It potentially can be even more effective in helping young people who are looking for job opportunities. The next level is to develop what we call an associate board of 25- to 35-year-old young professionals, and we think that's going to give us another dimension to address the millennials and other younger generations.
How do you fundraise?
We're asking people to be more than donors; we're asking them to be investors. And there, we could use some of the data that comes from return-on-investment analyses. I want to be able to tell you, "Your one dollar of investment in a preventive program for at-risk youth is going to yield . . . five, 10, 15 times" that much.
What are the biggest needs in Hempstead?
The greatest need in the Village of Hempstead is to get a functioning educational system. A 38 percent graduation rate, no offense, is horrendous, and kids growing up here become disadvantaged at a very early age.
What are you doing to boost graduation rates?
We've had a community collaborative that we call Hempstead Promise Neighborhoods. [We have] the Safe Passages Program for children, particularly going to and from middle school, [so they can] feel safe on the streets. We try to recruit volunteers to be out on the street . . . to offer an adult presence.
NAME: Philip Mickulas, president and CEO of the Family & Children's Association Inc. in Mineola.
WHAT IT DOES: One of the largest not-for-profit human service organizations on Long Island.
EMPLOYEES: 188 full time; 132 part time.
REVENUE: $19 million