BY ANDREAS YILMA
PROSPECT — Chet Doheny didn’t grow up in the most stable home environment when he was child but that didn’t impede his current success for his life which in turn helps people in need.
“Finding solutions to what seems impossible and hard to overcome is what drives me and what has made me who I am today,” Doheny said.
The Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce honored Doheny as the 45th recipient of the 101st Lewis A. Dibble Sr. Award at the Aria Banquet Hall in Prospect on Jan. 19.
The award, presented annually by the chamber, recognizes an individual’s outstanding contributions to the business and the socioeconomic well-being of Naugatuck.
The award is named after Lewis Acker Dibble Sr., who lived in Naugatuck and played an influential role in founding the chamber during the 1920s, helped in getting the borough YMCA its first building in 1923 and assisted in the effort to bring Peter Paul in 1926 to develop land into a huge candy company, Chairman of the Naugatuck Chamber board of directors attorney Kevin H. McSherry said.
McSherry said in many ways, Doheny is similar to Mr. Dibble.
“He’s (Doheny) demonstrated over the years, he’s demonstrated his intuition, his compassion for people,” McSherry said.
Doheny, who is originally from Milwaukee, Wisc., said he lived in almost all of the states except for Alaska and Hawaii within the first five years of his life, mainly in motels and out of two suitcases — one for his toys and the other for his clothes. He never met his father and his immediate family had a history of mental health and addiction problems. Doheny dropped out of school at 17-years old.
After he worked at some state jobs, he began working at the Institute of Professional Practice and moved up the ranks as high as he could before being turned away from the director position for not having a master’s degree.
Doheny, coincidentally at the time, had formed a small company to assist some challenged families with behaviorally challenged children but it was the late former Institute of Professional Practice Executive Director Michael Richards who convinced Doheny to start his own business.
Doheny founded the human services agency We Do Life … Together, (a Division of ICES, Inc.) in 1998 and is the organization’s CEO, president and executive director. The Naugatuck based company supports individuals with cognitive disorders, mental illnesses and those on the autism spectrum
ICES is licensed by the state of Connecticut Department of Developmental Services and works in collaboration with the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, local school systems, and other service providers. They are a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the National Association for the Dually Diagnosed and the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.
Doheny is also involved with various other organizations including being the vice chairman at large for the Waterbury Regional Chamber board of directors, owner and CEO of Connecticut Transportation Solutions, which provides services assisting school districts and state agencies with transportation needs for students with all abilities, forming SAKE LLC, a real estate company that provides housing for at-risk population in safe areas and creating 440 Maintenance that provides licensed and affordable home maintenance services.
“All these organizations fit in to make things happen for the people with cognitive issues, mental issues and autism,” McSherry said. “Those things being addressed and the man that makes life livable and makes a mainstream life for those people is great and that’s tremendous work.”
Doheny is also on the board of directors for several youth arts programs, which include City Youth Theater and 3D Music Academy. A little more than a dozen children from the 3D Music Academy preformed the song “Lean on Me” at about halfway of Doheny’s speech.
“I know with all my heart that I would not be here today if it were not for those who have supported and may have been on the sometimes bumpy ride with me,” Doheny said. “I am blessed to be apart of not only the business community of Naugatuck, Waterbury and the surrounding areas but have been able to take advantage of many wonderful opportunities available in these communities not only for my business but also for my family.”