Employee Spotlight: ‘It’s different every day’
Manager of Volunteers
As Manager of Volunteers for the San Bernardino County Region, Roxana Castro said recruiting and managing volunteers for THINK Together’s academic support programs can be fun but challenging.
“It’s different every day,” she said. “A large portion of our day is trying to engage the volunteers and find out what certain interest they have and let them know we have a spot for them.”
She spends lots of time on follow up emails with interested volunteers and communicates to high schools and colleges on a weekly basis. She works closely with the site coordinators at the schools and tracks volunteer hours and data. She also makes sure volunteers are rewarded for their efforts.
“Volunteers come to the organization because they want to help and they want to be useful,” she said. “They want us to use their skills, passion and interests. If we nurture them, they can do great things for our programs and for our students.”
Volunteers can come from the strangest places. She recently was working at a college fair when she spotted this young man who kept walking past her booth multiple times. Finally, he stopped to talk and told her that he had once been in the THINK Together program. When she and others in the booth asked him about his experience, he had to admit to them he had been kicked out of the program, but now he realizes just how important it was.
“It was a really funny conversation,” she said. “And now he is interested in volunteering with us.”
The best volunteers are those who have a certain degree of passion or interest in service, she said. They understand how important their role is to kids, but they also understand the kids are just as important to their success as a volunteer.
“It’s a win-win for both,” she said. “You can’t gain positive experience if you won’t let yourself learn from kids.”
Roxana arrived in this country when she was 9 and grew up in the Inland Empire. Because she didn’t speak the language, she credits extended learning time programs like THINK Together for helping her succeed.
Roxana began her THINK Together journey in January of 2007 as a site coordinator at Lexington Elementary School in Pomona. She performed that job for almost two years and then moved to Manager of Volunteers in January of 2009. Even though she has a degree in economics from UC Riverside, Roxana stays at THINK Together to help those children who face the same hurdles she did. A past job in the recruitment industry also gave her firsthand insights into what a lack of education can mean to someone. She saw how those workers who had no education were stuck in dead-end, low-paying jobs.
“I knew I wanted to stay in the Inland Empire and really support the community the way I was supported,” she said. “I’m always learning something new about my role and personally what I can do and how I can grow. Everyday I find a new way of how I can help. The people here keep me pumped up.”