Thank you to all who made Bet on The Harbour a success!
It was a wonderful night with wonderful people.
It was a wonderful night with wonderful people.
Congratulations Randi Gurian - Bobby Mayer Commitment to Youth Honoree
When Randi signed on as Executive Director of The Harbour in 2001, she brought with her experience in direct practice and child welfare administration. Randi had been a leader in professional organizations, notably President of the National Association of Perinatal Social Workers, and both Vice President and Treasurer of the Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Randi had worked for 17 years as a clinician, beginning her career working with families in a special education district, and then working for 13 years at Children’s Memorial with a variety of populations, most notably teen parents and the families of infants requiring intensive care. Randi moved from direct practice to administration, with progressively responsible positions at several child welfare agencies.
Randi was ready for a challenge when the Executive Director position was offered. The organization was facing significant issues at the time, but she saw something special in The Harbour – a place where youth could find a safe haven and new beginnings. Randi’s background in child welfare and extensive experience providing direct service to children and families proved an asset to the organization; fifteen years later, The Harbour is stronger than ever, with exciting things on the horizon. Randi brought her energy and dedication to youth and families to the agency. During her tenure, Randi has tirelessly dedicated herself to the organization’s mission: Offering youth safety today and opportunities for a successful tomorrow. Randi expanded services to new populations; the Safe Harbour Emergency Shelter was opened to youth 18 and over, and a program for pregnant and parenting youth was developed. Services to wards of the state expanded to include services to youth in their own apartments. As the organization has grown, Randi has created a learning culture at the organization, and has mentored dozens of youth and staff. Under her leadership, over 1,500 youth have received services.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a Master’s degree in Business Administration and over 40 years of social work experience, Randi’s professional credentials are
impressive. Equally inspiring is Randi’s ability to balance professional achievements with a rich personal life of eclectic interests. A lover of adventure travel, Randi has hiked in Switzerland, France, Italy, and Yosemite, and has even gone down the Grand Canyon in a rubber raft. Randi is also a fan of figure skating and ice hockey. In her downtime, Randi enjoys a game of hearts or scrabble, and admits that Candy Crush is one of her guilty pleasures. An avid reader, Randi enjoys a variety of genres including mysteries, fantasy and military science fiction. Although Randi sees her retirement from The Harbour as bittersweet, she looks forward to spending more time with her beloved family – husband, Charles; son, Josh; and future daughter-in-law, Perrin.
Randi’s dedication to Harbour youth throughout the years epitomizes the adage, “When passion meets action, lives change.” We are honored to recognize her 15 years of service to The Harbour. Congratulations Randi on being named the 2016 Bobby Mayer Commitment to Youth recipient!
Congratulations A'Shonti McKinney - Beacon of Success Honoree
As a teenager, A’Shonti experienced years of intermittent homelessness. During high school, her mother kicked her out several times, and she bounced around from one family member to another. Despite the instability at home, education was important to A’Shonti; she finished high school and she went to the University of Iowa without substantial support from her family. A’Shonti was not welcome home during school breaks and instead couch surfed at friends’ homes. During her second year at college, a reunification seemed possible – A’Shonti’s mother invited her to come home during Christmas break. Unfortunately, A’Shonti’s hopes of a relationship were dashed when she was kicked out by her mother in the middle of the night. After spending the night at the police station, A’Shonti took a mega bus back to Iowa, where she began couch surfing again. This instability made it impossible for her to remain in school and she returned to Chicago where she got a job and continued to couch surf.
A’Shonti heard about The Harbour from a co-worker. She entered the Safe Harbour Emergency Shelter where she found a welcoming environment, freedom to express herself, and a place to call home. The Harbour staff helped A’Shonti again explore the possibility of returning home, but it was not possible. A’Shonti transferred to a supervised group home within The Harbour’s Youth in Transition program. A’Shonti gained independent living skills, and prepared to move into her own apartment within the Youth in Transition program. In addition to providing A’Shonti with startup household goods and a gradually declining rent subsidy, The Harbour provided continued case management to her during her time in the program. A’Shonti credits her Therapeutic Case Manager, Jessica Zimmer, for providing a critical support system, offering advice, and helping her plan for her future. While at The Harbour, staff supported A’Shonti in maintaining healthy relationships with her brothers and other family members.
Two years after her first night in the Emergency Shelter, A’Shonti has graduated from The Harbour and attends DePaul University, where she will soon graduate with a major in Psychology with a Human Development concentration and a minor in Communication Studies. A’Shonti’s dedication to obtaining her degree is nothing short of impressive; she has worked between three and four jobs to make college possible. In addition to working with the disabled community to teach living and social skills, A’Shonti also works with the Oxford House Study to research individuals with substance abuse issues. With the tools and resources A’Shonti gained at The Harbour, she is currently moving in to her own apartment, and looks forward to applying to graduate schools for her Psy.D or Ph.D program. Ultimately, A’Shonti hopes to become a psychologist doing clinical work with adult male prisoners.