Jose' R. Quintanar
Jose’ was born in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico in 1946 but has lived all but one and a half years of his life in the United States. His parents, Jose’ Domingo and Maria De Jesus, immigrated to Los Angeles with the hope of providing their small, but growing, family with a better future. Jose’ was accompanied by his older brother, Juan. Soon to follow was Alice, the first of eight other children that would be born in the United States.
Completing all of his education in Los Angeles, Jose’ graduated from Fletcher Drive Elementary and Washington Irving Junior High, where he was student body president. He went on to attend John Marshall High School, a multi-ethnic campus in the Los Feliz area. Unfortunately, this was a low point in Jose’s life because, due to failing a government class in his senior year, he was not allowed to graduate on stage. Later on, he would use this incident to motivate others to complete their high school graduation.
For almost ten years, Jose’ chose to work rather than continue his education. However, with the realization that he would most likely continue working in low-paying jobs, he enrolled at Glendale Community College with a renewed sense of determination.
Upon successful completion of Associate of Arts degree and Glendale’s graduation requirements in 1975, Jose’ received a scholarship to study at Occidental College. Academic success continued for Jose as he pursued his Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. After graduating and earning his teaching credential in 1977, Jose’ was hired to teach for the Glendale Unified School District. His first teaching assignment was kindergarten.
Jose’s motivation to teach kindergarten was his belief that it was important to make the children’s first educational experience a positive one. Interestingly, he was the only male kindergarten teacher in the entire school district. After two years, Jose’ moved on to teach 3rd grade for the Montebello School District. At about the same time, he was employed part-time for the California Youth Authority (CYA), the state juvenile detention agency. Ironically, at the CYA, he was working with youth who had rejected education and were reading at the same 3rd grade level.
In 1981, after leaving Montebello and the CYA, Jose’ began his career teaching English and working in student services at Glendale Community College. In his fifteen-year career, he was able to create and direct a number of innovative programs, including the Articulation Council, Pre-Admissions Student Services and the Citizenship Center. During that time, Jose’ was able to return to college and earned a Master’s degree in education from U.C.L.A.
In 1990, while still working at the college, Jose’ met Linda Maxwell at a meeting that would eventually change the direction of his career path. As their friendship grew, they discovered that they both were very interested in learning why youth were so quick to use violence when confronted with conflict. What began as a question became a journey and a search that has lasted for sixteen years.
Jose’ and Linda founded We Care for Youth in 1991, a not for profit agency dedicated to serving youth with compassion and unconditional love. As volunteers, Jose and Linda began mentoring twenty middle school girls who were identified as being at-risk of not graduating. Fortunately, all of the girls graduated and moved on to high school. The experience was so profound that the girls chose to call their group, Still Standing Strong, to signify how they felt when they believed in themselves. To date, Linda and Jose’ are in contact with many of the girls who have become mothers, college and military graduates, computer specialists and educators. These twenty girls became the inspiration for much of what was to follow for We Care For Youth.
For the last sixteen years, through life skills, employment readiness, leadership development, and non-violence trainings, Jose’ and Linda have touched the lives of thousands of youth. Using project-based learning, they have engaged youth through small business entrepreneurship, event planning and community service. They have had the blessing and good fortune of watching many, many of their graduates go on to lead productive, positive adult lives.
For their efforts, Jose’ and Linda have received many awards and recognitions. In 2003, the American Institute for Public Service, a Washington, D.C. based organization that recognizes people for the community service, presented Jose’ with their Jefferson Award. He was one of fifty nine people nationwide who traveled to Washington to receive this prestigious award.
Currently, Jose and Linda are providing their services on-site at two area schools, Burbank High School and Pasadena’s McKinley School (grades K-8). In addition, they operate a business academy for youth called Bliss Unlimited, which is located in the Burbank Town Center. Using a retail store setting, youth are trained in all aspects work to give them “real world” employment experience.