Staff Spotlight: Stephanie Newton, Enrollment Coordinator
Last Month, we shared a Waiting Littles of the Month story with you, and this month, we would like to extend a special thank you to our very own Stephanie Newton who played a huge role in highlighting Jenser & ‘L’!
What does it mean to work for BBBSMB?
10 years ago I had a mentee through another organization, and our friendship grew from him putting his head down on the table and not wanting to engage, to playing “math basketball” and going ice skating together. It’s meaningful to know that other kids and adults are building similar friendships. Kids have amazing perspectives on the world and I think we grown-ups can learn a lot from them. Our Littles also really look up to their Bigs and look forward to spending time together. Mentoring is all about “planting trees under whose shade you won’t sit” – the benefits are long term so you might not necessarily see them.
How long have you been involved with the organization?
548 days. We count how long a Little has been waiting for a Big in days. When kids ask their guardians, “When am I going to get my Big?” daily, they really feel every day pass. On a related note, please apply to be a Big!
As an Enrollment Coordinator, what is your biggest responsibility?
Facilitating quality matches between Bigs and Littles. I enroll adult volunteers in the program, enroll kids and their families in the program, and match them together based on personality fit, location, favorite professional basketball player, and many other factors.
Recently we launched our first Waiting Little of the Month Campaign; you helped tremendously with pulling that together. Could you speak towards your role in that project and the impact it’s had on you?
We have hundreds of Littles waiting for Bigs, so some end up waiting a very long time to be matched, and it’s an absolute delight to match a Little who has been waiting so patiently (i.e. asking their guardian every day for a Big) for so long. I’ve been working with many coworkers to tell the stories of our longest-waiting kids to let potential Bigs (you) know that there is such a need for Bigs, and encourage them (you) to apply.
How do you interact with the families and Bigs you serve on a daily basis? You work on the Spanish Speaking team, so how important is it for you to be able to speak Spanish when communicating with the families you serve?
It’s a team effort to find the right match and set it up for success, so I talk with the families on my caseload and the Bigs that I’m enrolling regularly. After interviewing a Big and processing their application, I’m right there with them to introduce them to their Little. It’s fun to be involved in the whole process.
About a third of the families on my caseload prefer to communicate in Spanish, and it’s extremely important to honor a family’s preferences and comfort so they can have a better experience in our program. Upon meeting a family, there have been times when we began speaking in English, and I could see the relief on their faces when I asked if they wanted to switch to Spanish. They went from answering my questions with a few reluctant words, to sharing a flood a stories about their child.
It’s also extremely important that a Little see themselves in their role models, whether that’s having a role model who is also an immigrant, black, likes music, grew up with a single parent, or has ADHD. Having a wide range of identities and experiences in our Bigs allows us to make better quality matches, since we have such a wide range of identities and experiences in our Littles.
How would you describe the culture at BBBSMB?
We are always pushing ourselves to be better, while also making sure that we are caring for ourselves and each other. We constantly share articles, podcasts, books to read, events to attend, and Quotes of the Month across the team. There is an excellent work-life balance, which helps me do my job better. We also have dental insurance, and a schedule that’s flexible enough that we can actually go to the dentist.
In your free time, do you have any special hobbies that you take up?
I play the tenor saxophone in an activist brass band called the Second Line Brass Band. We play in support of local social justice and community events. You might see us marching around Greater Boston wearing red and black and making a lot of noise.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of working at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay?
One of my favorite parts of the job is identifying a Little and a Big who will be a great fit for each other. It’s like doing a puzzle that keeps changing shape as you’re trying to put it together (actually, I’ve never had that experience, but I imagine it is both tricky and fun) and I love feeling a “click” that says, YES, this Little and this Big will be perfect together.
I once asked a Little how excited they were about getting a Big on a scale of 1-5, and they said, “10. No, 100. No, a million. No, 6 MILLION!” Another time, I was calling a mother to tell her that we found a Big for her child, and she screamed with joy. The sheer excitement that people feel about starting a new, lasting friendship is so heartening.
The most challenging?
Calling a family to tell them that we’re still looking for a Big for them (note: apply to be a Big!)
Deciding between 3 Littles who could all be a good fit for a particular Big (note: apply to be a Big!)
Not being able to be a Big myself for all the Littles I meet (note: apply to be a Big!)
What advice would you give to someone who is considering coming to work for BBBSMB?
Be prepared to be awed by our Bigs and Littles, attend the monthly “Snacktivity” to spend time with your teammates, and click “save” often.