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Juan Rivera, Program Director, BronxWorks Homeless Outreach Team

Sometimes when you follow your passions, you end up with a career spanning decades before you even realize it. When your passion revolves around helping the street homeless population of New York City, your effect can reach countless individuals in that same time span. For Juan Rivera, Program Director of the BronxWorks Homeless Outreach Team, street homeless outreach was like a calling to him, something he felt he was uniquely positioned to do, and to do well.

Juan was born and raised in the Bronx. He attended Ithaca College originally to pursue a degree in communications with dreams of working in sports TV or radio. He would later transfer to Fordham University to complete his undergraduate studies and worked at Simon & Schuster for one year after graduating. Juan said that he would have something of an epiphany, that the experience at Fordham University around service would remain with him, and that his communication, interpersonal, and bi-lingual speaking skills were strengths for him to pursue social service work. He left Simon & Schuster to take on social services jobs with a variety of organizations, including the NYC Parks Department where he first developed an interest in working with the homeless.

"You see a lot of folks who are homeless in parks. That's when it became interesting to me," Juan says. "I was thinking, what's going on with these guys? Who's helping them?"
Juan got his first job as an Outreach Worker in May 2000, working in Manhattan. His very first encounter outreaching to a homeless individual was at Madison Square Park. He still remembers the encounter like it was yesterday. Juan recounts it as being pleasant, an older gentleman who shared his story, which Juan says he is thankful for. He says that in that moment it felt like the right thing for him to be doing, that it was what he was meant to do. After working with a few other organizations, Juan joined BronxWorks in October 2007. He spent two years as an Outreach Worker before moving on to case management. In 2009, Juan applied to Hunter College and graduated in 2012 as a Social Worker. In 2014, Juan became the Program Director of the Homeless Outreach Team.
Juan Rivera (left), Program Director, and Issa Asiedo (right), Outreach Coordinator, for the BronxWorks Homeless Outreach Team.

"I still get that same feeling when I talk to folks or when I have a real connection with someone."
Because of the passion of BronxWorks staff like Juan and his team, street homeless rates in the Bronx have declined over the past 10 years. The work that HOT does 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year, has helped bring countless individuals off the street, into shelter, and eventually into permanent housing. It connects the most vulnerable individuals to much-needed services and has become one of the pillars of what BronxWorks provides for Bronx communities. Outside of his work, Juan has become very much a family man. He and his wife are raising two children and enjoy road trips, exploring places with deep and abundant history, meeting people, and sharing experiences as a family. He's a Yankees fan and a Giants fan, but mostly watches cartoons on the television these days.

Previous BronxWorks Stories

#86 Staff Profile: Juan Rivera

#85 Staff Profile: Karla Velasquez

#84 Staff Profile: Anthony Horne

#83 Staff Profile: Carolina Espinosa & Rachel Gill

#82 Staff Profile: Andrew Lin

#81 Staff Profile: Sarah Kimball

#80 Staff Profile: Natalie Villanueva

#79: 2020 25 & 20-Year Staff Recognition

#78 Staff Profile: Devin Duran

#77 Staff Profile: Rachel Onijoko 

#76 Staff Profile: Dominique Jackson

#75 Staff Profile: Phillipa Quan

#74 Staff Profile: Tiffanie Dorch

#73 Staff Profile: Rasheed Brown

#72 Staff Profile: Andrea Kepler

#71 Staff Tribute: Lloyd Dennis and Suzette Walker 

#70 Staff Profile: Michael Jackson

#69 Staff Profile: Stephanie Wingert

#68 Staff Profile: Timeka Toussaint

#67 Staff Profile: Gordon Miller

#66 Staff Profile: Michael Plummer

#65 Staff Profile: Marie Edwards

#64 Staff Profile: Kiesha Roberts

#63 Staff Profile: Yvette Felicia Thomas 

#62 BronxWorks Welcomes Atlas Corps Fellows

#61 Staff Profile: John Betts 

#60 Staff Profile: Tyron Johnson

#59 Staff Profile: Genesis Mejia

#58 Staff Profile: Angel Vazquez

#57 Staff Profile: Lijo Varghese 

#56 Staff Profile: Tiffany Martinez 

#55 Staff Profile: Solomon Smart

#54 Staff Profile: Alissa Tyghter-Gerald 

#53 Staff Profile: Reinaldo Cruz 

#52 Staff Profile: Estrella Montanez 

#51 Staff Profile: Adriana Puello

#50 Staff Profile: Evan Hahn, Bessie Taliaferro, Allison Gangi 

#49 Staff Profile: Issa Asiedo

#48 Staff Profile: Agnes Manson

BronxWorks remembers Carmen Hernandez

#47 Staff Profile: Tiesha Scott

#46 Staff Profile: Noel Gonzalez

#45 Staff Profile: Dorothy Whyte

#44 Staff Profile: Diami Virgilio

#43 Staff Profile: Whitney Sample

#42 Understanding Diversity in a Multicultural Community

#41 Rachel B. – On the path out of poverty


Click below to read the 40 BronxWorks Stories that highlighted our 40th anniversary year

#40 Carolyn McLaughlin – One Family Meets Another

#39 Robin Hood and BronxWorks – Synergy in Fighting Poverty

#38 The BronxWorks Board of Directors: Time, Talent, Treasure, and Terrific!

#37 Betances Community Center Advisory Board: “We have PhDs in ‘street’!”

#36 20+ Years of Careers in Service at BronxWorks

#35 Camila R. – By helping another, she helped herself

#34 Jean Smith – A Lifetime of Caring and Lifting Lives

#33 BronxWorks Partners: These Landlords are Building Futures and Community

#32 FEPS – Reducing fear, confusion, and homelessness

#31 Horatio G. – Building his future through language

#30 BronxWorks Blue Waves – Swimming for Fun, Fitness & the Future

#29 Abubacar W. – Big Steps for a Little Boy

#28 Bedtime Stories – Lifting lives through reading & caring

#27 Tyrese M. – “I get another family”

#26 Eva M. – Intra-agency collaboration results in happiness and a home

#25 KC, Shannon, & Christopher – Making Children’s Lives Better

#24 Veronica, NCJW, and HIPPY – “Not alone in this journey through life”

#23 Maria R. – A 23-hour bus ride and her faith saved her life

#22 Ronald G. – "Crossing a bridge to better health and stability"

#21 Stephanie M. – From Attitude to Aptitude

#20 "Reweaving the social fabric of a neighborhood"

#19 Catherine M. – "I'm not a sit-down kind of person!"

#18 Judy Leonard – A Letter to BronxWorks Friends

#17 Rachea C. – Achieving Milestones, Step by Step

#16 Eric Hill – Miles & Music

#15 BronxWorks and Super Storm Sandy – Dedication, stamina, and grace personified

#14 Milagros R. – One dress, many dreams

#13 Heights seniors take the healthy lead

#12 Nidia R. – Minor repairs = major relief

#11 Homeless Outreach Team – Feeling Connected to the World

#10 Cristina, Raymond, Crisbelly & Aaron – Growing up at BronxWorks

#9 Jeniffer M. – From the South Bronx to South Africa: the visit of a lifetime that almost didn't happen

#8 Nathaniel S. – "I'm right there beside you"

#7 Diana S. – Overcoming tragedy: "I'm still here"

#6 Irodney P. – "I want to earn it not have it handed to me"

#5 Natividad C. – A bond of mutual respect and genuine affection

#4 Michael J. – "What was given to me was given freely"

#3 Kathryn Speller – Retiring from work, not her passions

#2 Alfredo C. – "Thanks to you, Dad"

#1 Jonathan P. – Striving for Excellence

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