Spending 20 years or more at the same place is a rarity these days. But at BronxWorks there are 28 staff members who have done just that. Their roles are myriad – these staff work across all program areas and job functions – but what’s consistent is their commitment to BronxWorks’ mission of helping our neighbors improve their economic and social well-being.
Both of BronxWorks' Assistant Executive Directors Scott Auwarter and John Weed are in this 20-year club, as they were each placed at BronxWorks for their Master of Social Work internships and have continued their careers at the agency ever since. Executive Director Carolyn McLaughlin is the longest-serving on staff, but you’ll read about her in Story #40. Here are just a couple of examples of other long-term staff.
Next in longevity to Carolyn at 27 years is Nicolas Cruz, who has been working as a housing specialist for about five years, and before that in various other direct-service positions where he’s worked with clients and sometimes as a supervisor for other staff. After they met at a meeting of Bronx organizations, Carolyn hired Nicolas when there was just a staff of five. He started the first office at Bedford Park, and returned to work there many years later in his current position.
Nicolas was drawn to this work as his family was helped by social service agencies when they first moved to the Bronx from Puerto Rico after his father’s death. Nicolas says that these experiences inspired his career at BronxWorks and that he “likes working with people on a daily basis.”
“The most important thing,” he says, “is knowing that I have made a positive impact on the lives of others,” citing as examples the clients, particularly seniors, he’s helped gain housing and other benefits.
Bibi Karim started working in BronxWorks’ homelessness prevention program right out of college. She quickly was promoted to case manager, to assistant program director, and then to program director, earning her MSW while working. This track record is impressive, and Bibi is just one of several BronxWorks staff who have had similar paths at the agency. In Bibi’s case, pursuing her MSW was in part motivated by the desire to be a strong support and supervisor for her staff.
Bibi has now been Positive Living Department Director overseeing programs serving people with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses for almost 10 years, helping to expand these programs over time. Bibi says, “I see my job as a real passion; I get excited about the challenges.” She has a “deep concern for people and their welfare,” with a fiercely positive outlook on their ability to effect change; “I like to fix problems because I think most things are fixable.” Bibi also points out that “knowing that someone is just a little better off than before they came to see you is a great feeling.”
Other long-serving staff came on board through the mid-1990s merger with the Girls Club of New York, including Tom Samuel, Director of Grants & Contracts, who has now worked 29 years between both organizations. Several more, ranging from staff in maintenance to early childhood learning, have continued in meaningful careers ever since – a sign of the highly successful joining of the two organizations.
When gathered to take the photo above, staff swapped stories about their early years and the different experiences they’ve had. Consistent among their sentiments is that BronxWorks is a “good place to be; that’s why I’ve been here 20+ years,” lifting lives, building futures day after day, year after year.
28 staff have worked at BronxWorks for 20+ years. Pictured clockwise from top left: Roselie Aviles, Reinaldo Cruz, Bibi Karim, Linda Tomoney-Hill, Julie Spitzer, Abigail Corchado, Gloria Rivera, Rosalina Luongo, Carolyn Pelzer, Debbie Newton, Nicolas Cruz, Phillipa Quan, Elizabeth Suarez, Carolyn McLaughlin, Vicky Villa, and John Weed. Not pictured: Scott Auwarter, Dale Carrillo, Jeanette De La Rosa, Daisy Diaz, Arthur Fuller, Millie Gonzalez, Ana Hernandez, Daniela Nuñez, Parag Patel, Adolfo Quan, Thomas Samuel, and Diane Semper. Questions or comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to return to 40 BronxWorks Stories...