When you walk into the Home Start offices, you are greeted by a true Home Start Hero, someone who really cares about strengthening families and protecting children. Meet Maria, our new Administrative Coordinator, which means she does A LOT to keep things running smoothly, including welcoming guests in person and over the phone.
Before she joined our staff, Maria was a volunteer with our Communities In Action program, helping to facilitate the transition to our new location at Jacobs Center. She had a first-hand look at the positive effects our programs have.
“When I started as a volunteer, the things that attracted me to Home Start were the involvement with the community, with children, and trying to improve and strengthen families. They have parent education, they have therapies, they have Communities In Action, they help the homeless and people with low incomes.”
The variety of programs is also why she is so integral to her new position in the Home Start offices. She is a central link between all departments, making sure processes run smoothly.
“I like being dynamic and not always sitting down at the desk looking at emails… I’m always running here and there,” she says.
Home Start recognized her talents quickly, and Maria recognized that this was the kind of organization she wanted to work with full-time.
“They’re very nice people, very easygoing, very approachable… one of the things I like is that we’re very open door here. If you have any questions you can definitely go to anyone here and ask… Because as a new person I didn’t know a lot of the procedures and that was great to have. That was one of the things I was looking for in an organization.”
After she graduated from San Diego State, Maria knew she wanted more.
“I want to be able to serve my community… so I thought this was a great opportunity. I like seeing the diverse people we see. I like that. You see a lot of Latinos, Asian Americans, African Americans, Somalis, refugees, people from all over the world.”
One experience that determined Maria’s commitment to Home Start was through her work with Communities In Action’s tax preparation assistance program.
“A lady called speaking Japanese and her daughter was translating over the phone. I know a little bit of Japanese, I’m not fluent, but when they came in I was like ‘hajimemashite dozo yoroshiku’ (How do you do? Nice to meet you.) and they were grateful and I let the tax agent know ahead of time to have Google Translate ready. Doing those kinds of things are very gratifying to me.”
So far, Maria is finding gratification in her new role as well and is beginning to recognize what it is that makes this workplace so special.
“I think we’re like a family. We support each other. You have that ability to grow, not just professionally, but as a person. And you need that, especially if you’re in a business where you’re helping others – you need to have that empathy towards people and be a good person.”
We don’t think Maria is just a good person, we think she is an amazing coworker and we thank her for sharing her Home Start story with us.
If you want to be a Home Start Hero, check out our volunteer opportunities here.