As the volunteer enrollment specialist, Andrea helps get new volunteers enrolled and trained before they meet their new littles. Our agency recognizes that volunteers enter our program from all different walks of life, and it’s Andrea’s job to listen and prepare each volunteer to work with littles and families who may come from very different backgrounds than they do. Andrea works with almost every volunteer who comes through our doors, and what a difference she makes!
Andrea says it was her high school mentor who first got her involved with nonprofits. Because she moved around a lot as a kid, it was difficult for Andrea to find and maintain mentors. However, when she started high school, she was paired up with Natasha her high school’s French teacher. Natasha and Andrea bonded over their mutual love of Harry Potter, and Andrea eventually started to turn to Natasha when she needed help or advice about what was going on with her outside of school. Recognizing Andrea’s potential, Natasha suggested that she join her high school’s Diversity Council, and from there, Andrea went on to serve as a social justice youth intern for the Michigan Roundtable of Diversity. She has been working with nonprofits ever since.
Working for the Michigan Roundtable first taught Andrea about how to understand individuals in a wide context, taking into account their diverse experiences in order to work alongside them to make their lives better. When Andrea was applying for college, she found Eastern Michigan’s School of Social Work to be a place where others were thinking like her and were driven by a similar desire to be a positive force for social change. She developed her passion for serving young people while working for another nonprofit, where she led discussions with youth on topics from school policies to career building to managing banks accounts. She then came to BBBS as an intern before joining us full time.
As our agency continues to expand, Andrea says she looks forward to growing along with it. She says she is always thinking about ways to recruit new volunteers -- especially men! Eighty percent of our waitlist is boys, so we are always in need of new Big Brothers. “I have a little brother who is turning 12, and I want him to have a positive male influence,” she explained. She talked about how excited she was for Man to Man, a recruitment event during which men get to pair up with the boys on our waitlist for a day. Last year, 25 Big Brothers enrolled after the event, and Andrea is excited to be a part of enrolling new male volunteers again this year.
Andrea says that her favorite part of her job is hearing about the little moments in matches when a Little meets a personal goal or tries something new. At the same time, she recognizes that those moments take a lot of time and effort to facilitate. She supports Bigs so that they are able to establish trust and develop a relationship with their Little. “I love getting to know volunteers and life stories. I love getting to put kids and volunteers together and see that magic happen,” she said. While she acknowledges the hard work that building relationships takes, she knows that it is all worth it in the end. “The commitment is big, but it’s really rewarding to see your little light up.”