Pivot Ministries began in 1970 to address increasing drug use among teens and young adults in the Norwalk community. The Rev. Dr. Joseph D. Clemmons, Sr. Director of the Norwalk Area Ministry (NAM) envisioned a Christ centered solution and asked Board Chairman Rev. Henry Yordon to refocus NAM mission on recovery. The goal was to create a ministry that would ‘turn men’s lives around’ and Pivot Ministries was born.
Dr. Clemons selected Rev. Alonso Smalls, a member of New York City’s Soul Saving Station, as the first Director of Pivot Ministries. Reverend Smalls was a recent graduate of Teen Challenge Ministry Institute and went on to successfully manage and grow Pivot for 30 years. Pastor Smalls continues to this day teaching classes to the students and offering trusted guidance to our leadership while serving as Pastor Emeritus.
Pivot’s first graduate, the late Vandy Moore, succeeded Rev. Smalls and served as Executive Director from 2000-2004. Another Pivot graduate, Rev. David B. Smith served as Executive Director from 2004 -2012. Our current Executive Director, Tony Kiniry, was named in 2013. Mr. Kiniry had previously served on the Pivot Board of Directors since 2001.
Pivot has grown from a small ‘Pivot House’ on 52 Chestnut Street in Norwalk to four properties capable of providing housing and services to 77 men. Our Intervention Center at 495 Jane Street in Bridgeport was purchased in 1985. The neighboring Re-Entry House was purchased in 1999 and completely renovated by groups of volunteers from area churches. The administration offices relocated to 485 Jane Street when the Re-Entry house opened in 2004.
Our on-campus Community Center was built and opened in 2009 and hosts General Educational Development (GED) classes, 12 step meetings, staff training and neighborhood service projects. An adjoining greenhouse on 674 Shelton opened in 2011 and is focused on creating employment training and opportunities for Pivot graduates. Pivot created a Community Development Corporation (CDC) in 2012. The CDC’s mission is to create small business that will train and employ Pivot students and graduates.