Celebrating Major Employee Milestones
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas just celebrated 50 years as an agency. We have also recognized matches that have spanned decades, but in 2022 we are honoring another important milestone. This year we are celebrating four employees who have served the BBBS community for 10 plus years – a special achievement for an organization with only 32 staff members.
“What a wonderful accomplishment! Hats off to these four special staff members – Sergio Guzman, Adriana Adams, Christina Snell, and Christina Eisenlord,“ said Dr. Leah Meunier, BBBS’ CEO. “It is recognition that is well-deserved.”
“Employee retention is critical to any successful organization, but it is especially important at BBBS,” said Leah. “Many of the kids and families we serve are dealing with life situations that are already in flux, dealing with everything from job instability to housing displacement due to rising rents. They need consistent, reliable contacts. Having tenured employees and established relationships allows us to provide such support.”
The “newest” of the honorees is Sergio, who is celebrating 10 years of service as a bilingual senior match support specialist. Managing a caseload of 85 matches, he is always ready to provide resources and support for Bigs, Littles, and families. Described by his supervisor as ready and willing to accept any challenge, Sergio has also assisted with the agency’s workplace mentoring program and with planning Brother to Brother events.
What are his initial thoughts about his achievement? “I’m actually a little shocked,” said Sergio, a UT graduate with a degree in social work. “Time flew by fast! It does not seem like 10 years to me.”
Sergio says the time has passed quickly due to the successes he has seen in the program. “I am able to see my matches grow over time and to see how they flourish. Some of our kids apply for a Big and they come from rough backgrounds,” he said. “Our volunteers come into the child’s life and become role models and stable figures for them. I am privileged to see how our kids start out before they are matched, and to hear about the positive effects their Bigs have on them.”
One of Sergio’s favorite BBBS events is the annual Promising Futures Scholarship Ceremony. “One of my favorite things about working here is the scholarship ceremony for our kids,” said Sergio. “Every year we recognize the kids who have been promised a scholarship through our agency. Seeing them come to the ceremony is a wonderful experience. Families and volunteers come to the event looking happy and proud. I think it’s amazing that we can help our kids in this capacity.”
Another 10-year employee is Adriana Adams, Director of Customer Relations and Enrollment. “I have mixed feelings about this milestone,” said Adriana. “I feel proud and nostalgic. I also can’t believe that it has been this long!”
One of Adriana’s favorite memories is that of meeting the agency’s original founding director. “A few years back, we had the opportunity to meet the founding Executive Director of BBBS of Central Texas, Larry Guillot,” she said. “It was very special to meet the person who started the work here more than 50 years ago, and to share about where we are now.”
“As a manager, I truly get motivated by the passion of the staff I supervise, and by seeing their growth,” she continued. “Seeing the heart people have for our mission makes it easy to find the deeper meaning in the work, even if my work doesn’t involve direct service to our participants.”
BBBS also is proud to have two 15-year achievers – ‘the Christinas,’ who are known to those in the office by their last names of Snell and Eisenlord.
Christina Snell, Director of Match Support, came to Austin from the BBBS agency in Arlington. “Where did the time go?” she laughed. “I guess it’s true that time flies when you’re having fun! I really can’t believe it. The years have added on so quickly it seems!”
The years have not only added up, but the stories and memories have as well. Christina says there are just too many to count, but one that stands out involves a special Little Sister. “I keep a picture of her on my desk. She was 7 when we met and I introduced her to her Big Sister,” said Christina. “Less than 6 months later, she was tragically hit by a car while waiting at the bus stop. Her Big Sister and I met the family at Dell Children’s ICU – where she remained for months.”
“I was privileged to support this match and family, and visited them all at the hospital,” she said. “But more importantly, I witnessed her Big Sister do the same!”
Christina adds, “I have an updated picture of this Little Sister, about 10 years later, at our BBBS Hobie Day lake event, walking, running, and swimming after being in a wheelchair and leg braces for a couple of years. She is a reminder of how strong we all are and of how, with the right support, we can recover from hardship. Her Big Sister, our program, and all the supporters of BBBS were that for her.”
The other 15-year honoree is Christina Eisenlord, our Big Futures Coordinator, a person who loves community and who loves kids, and who found a perfect fit at BBBS. “I’m a big believer in community and I believe that a strong community is built with strong kids,” she said. “Mentoring helps build strong kids who can, in turn, become strong members of the community.”
Christina has seen this first-hand. “I remember a young man several years ago who was disrespectful, having anger issues, and who was not doing well in school. I found a super fantastic Big for him and that Little is now a completely different person. He treats his mom well, he’s doing better in school, and he is a better brother to his siblings. Stories like that keep me going because I know mentoring works. It inspires me to help kids get into positive mentorships.”
Throughout her tenure, there is one experience that stands out for Christina, that of becoming a Big Sister herself. “My favorite experience hands down is that of meeting my Little Brother and developing our long-term match relationship,” she said. “It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and one of the best experiences that I have ever had. I’m very lucky to have him in my life and to play a supportive role in his.”
“Having four of our staff members achieve these 10 and 15-year milestones is really special. It not only speaks to the skill, dedication, and commitment of these amazing individuals but also the necessity, urgency, and impact of our mission,” said Joe Strychalski, BBBS VP of Programs. “Each of these staff members has grown to be a leader in our agency, plays a huge role in impacting each match that we make, and makes our entire agency and community better. A huge congratulations and thank you for all that you do, to Sergio, Adriana, Snell and Eisenlord!”