Amanda first came to BBBS as an intern in Fall 2011 while working on her BA in social work at Eastern Michigan University. However, Amanda’s road to deciding to become a social worker was not entirely straight forward. While she knew that she wanted to go into a helping position, she thought teaching, not social work, was her calling. It was not until her involvement with EMU’s Alternative Break program that she realized her passion for working with and empowering communities. During her first Alternative Break trip, Amanda went to southern Louisiana to work with a community that was struggling to recover just months after Hurricane Katrina. Amanda said it was the resilience and strength of that community that inspired her to change her career path forever.
Big Brothers Big Sisters was a great fit for Amanda, who had experience working with underserved kids at Shining Star Camp, attended by kids with emotional impairments. More important to Amanda, however, was the fact that working at BBBS gave her the opportunity to honor the legacy of her friend Shelby, who passed away the summer before the start of her BBBS internship. “Shelby loved kids,” Amanda said. “I felt like everything kind of came together.”
After her internship, Amanda returned to work for BBBS through AmeriCorps. Shortly thereafter she earned her Masters of Social Work at EMU and became a Match Support Specialist at BBBS in 2014. With her recent promotion to Program Adviser, Amanda says she is excited by the opportunity to continue to learn more about BBBS. However, Amanda also admitted that her job offers its own challenges. She understands being a social worker means having the flexibility to be a part of her clients’ “best” and “worst” days. “Being in a supervisor role opens me up to caring a lot more about more people,” she said. “So I have to learn how to balance, manage the rough days.” Despite this challenge, Amanda is eager to develop both emotionally and professionally. She said that she sees the mishaps along the way as opportunities to grow.
Amanda considers community involvement to be a crucial component of her job. “There are a lot of constant changes that occur in the lives of our clients, and I consider it our ethical obligation to stay up to date on what is going on.” For Amanda, this means constantly educating herself on local concerns such as new school reading policies and immigration laws as well as attending professional development workshops and BBBS regional conferences. Given her passion for community, Amanda is excited by BBBS’s growing involvement with partners in the Ypsilanti area. Being located directly in downtown Ypsilanti creates constant opportunities for individuals and businesses to get involved in our mission to serve our kids and families. Amanda says she is thrilled to be a part of helping this sense of community to blossom.