BATAVIA — In choosing Daniel Calkins to become the next executive director of the County Youth Bureau, the county is bringing a “child at heart” on board, as Daniel Calkins describes himself.
Calkins, 34, who worked for Arc GLOW and worked with youth at Northgate Free Methodist Church, would start his new job on Monday, earning a salary of $58,828. The full Legislative Assembly will consider approving Calkins when it meets Wednesday afternoon.
“I’ve always been a kid at heart and I’m not very interested in growing up. While working at the church, I developed a deeper passion to be meaningfully involved in the lives of young people. I think this is a very important and often overlooked area of social and physical development that people think will happen naturally. I believe that if we let the world shape our youth without intention or notice, we will be disappointed in the type of people they become. I consider it a privilege to be responsible for the further education and development of young people and their families for our region.
The executive director position, last held by Bill Schutt, who was appointed in May 2021, had been vacant since April 27, 2022, the county said in the resolution backed by the Ways and Means Committee last week. Chelsea Elliott served as the interim CEO. Calkins had originally hoped to get the job in 2021.
“While I was working with young people at Northgate I had applied for this position but unfortunately didn’t get it at the time. Knowing that I wanted to return to social work, I accepted a residential coordinator position at Arc GLOW,” he said. “I maintained my relationship with Northgate and continued to help the youth group and other community outreach efforts such as the new disc golf course we built there.”
“Having the job now is wonderful and I’m excited to think about the opportunities for young people here in Genesee and Orleans counties,” he said.
Calkins said he looks forward to finding the need in the Genesee County community and bringing an energy surge of new educational and recreational activities. The Youth Bureau could then reach a large number of people.
“Communities are built by being together and that’s what I hope we can achieve. I think the social challenges that have always existed will continue to be a barrier to building stronger communities,” he said. “Economic, cultural and ideological differences are always things that keep us apart, but I hope our office can be an agency that facilitates events that remind us more of our similarities than our differences and remind us that we can have fun with each other. I think that when we begin to undertake this task, we should be aware of our failures, while using them to strengthen our future attempts.
Calkins said he pastored at Northgate for four wonderful years and still has many of the relationships he started there.
“I grew up in Batavia and I feel that all the connections I have with the community will help me bring the community together and develop partnerships with the Youth Office. I would like to think that I am someone known in the community who will help us organize a myriad of events,” he said. “I’m passionate about building a community, in fact, when I read that Phil Boyd (from Batavia) was struggling to find a place for a new disc golf course in Batavia, it was me who contacted to see if there was anything we could do at Northgate.
While at Northgate, he said, he worked with Elliott in cooperation with the youth court.
“Several of the young people who have come through this system have completed their service at Northgate with me. Some of these people have continued to work with us, volunteering at Northgate even after their time has ended,” he said. “Some of these students have even returned to be summer counselors at our annual youth base camp, (Vacation Bible School) Base Camp which hosted over 100 children at our peak. On the education side, programs like Safe Harbor, a grant-funded program that fights human trafficking, is something close to my heart and a much bigger issue today than most people. realize.
At this point, for Calkins, the position of Executive Director of the Youth Bureau is not a stepping stone to anything else.
“As of today, I see this as a final stop and something I’ve been focusing on for a long time,” he said. “I intend to make the most of it and work my best to make the county proud of our Youth Bureau. I’m open to the future, but right now my whole heart is in this new venture.
Attica resident Calkins said his wife, Deanna, is a second-grade teacher in the Attica Central School District. They have two sons, Ezra. 6, and Elijah, who is about to turn 4.
What does Calkins do when he has free time?
“In my spare time, I like to go find a park with my family and play with my sons – there’s not much like being with your family and being with people who love you. I have lots of hobbies — too many, according to my lovely wife. I like doing things and taking on challenges. I like making pizza, making kombucha tea, and trying new foods in a constant search for the perfect chicken sandwich.” , he said, “I like woodworking, playing ice hockey and I love board games (like really cheesy games). I like to read books that force me to think or considering a new perspective or challenging my heart to be better and give things a chance.
County Executive Matt Landers said Calkins was one of four candidates interviewed recently.
“His energy and interview readiness, experience and insights set him apart. He applied last time and the committee made a selection to go with Bill (Schutt) last time,” Landers said. We weren’t able to interview him (Calkins) in person last time. He was conducted on Zoom.
This time, the county manager said, “We were able to bring him in and really see the potential for him to do a hell of a job for us at the Youth Bureau.”
“He had different ideas on how to reach young people. In particular, he wanted to focus on at-risk youth. He thought sometimes young overachievers got a lot of recognition and he would like to see programs that target at-risk people,” Landers said. “He had reached out and had connections with Youth Bureau staff and was also quite familiar with the programs used by the Youth Bureau.”
Landers said Schutt’s departure as executive director of the Youth Bureau was not due to retirement. He said he had no comment on Schutt’s departure. Prior to becoming executive director, Schutt served as deputy coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management.
“It was just a matter of we don’t like to comment on personnel matters,” Landers said. “Overall. His time as Emergency Management (Assistant Coordinator) has been exceptional. He has helped us through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elliott had served as youth program coordinator for the Youth Bureau and briefly left the county before returning as acting executive director, Landers said.
“We called her. She was wholeheartedly willing to help us. She did a great job. She helped with the county’s transition,” he said. “We’d love to keep her on board, but I’ll let the new executive director, Dan, assess the needs of the department and go from there. Based on Chelsea’s work, she still has a place in the Youth Bureau.