The Boys and Girls Club of Coastside is proud to announce the promotion of one of their own. Sandra Sarabia is the new Site Manager at Cunha Intermediate School . We are thrilled to have Sandra on our team!
As a former student and part-time staffer, she knows the importance of staff and how one individual can really impact a kid’s life. Sandra recalls how her own experience in the BGCC program was critical to her education, self-esteem and social life – and that really motivates her to give her all to the kids today.
We support academics.
“When I was in middle school, I really struggled with math. I was always worried about not finishing my homework and turning it in. Sometimes I would get so frustrated because I couldn’t understand the math concepts,” says Sandra. “My parents only spoke Spanish and were not academically educated. They only completed a first grade education.”
Sandra gratefully acknowledges that “the staff really supported me. They helped me get my homework done and turn it in. I felt great relief to know my work was not wrong – and it was not incomplete. I was not intimidated to ask for help. And I thank my mentor, Crystal, for demonstrating the difference one person can make by helping kids feel welcome and encouraging kids to ask for help without being embarrassed.”
We strive to provide a place where the kids can be themselves. This isn’t a place to babysit. This is a place to be themselves – to enjoy, grow and find their best self.”
We give hope.
Kids need support with school — and their emotional needs — to help them develop into their best selves.
“When there is a problem, we don’t shame the kids. If they are missing too many assignments, kids can just give up. So first we acknowledge the problem and find out why they are struggling. Then we work on a plan to make the work up — one assignment at a time.” outlines Sandra.
She continues, “We offer different ways to inspire learning. We push the kids, support them and offer structure to do the work. “I’m not looking for straight As. I want to empower these kids to do the best they can – and build life skills to face the challenges in their lives. I was there once, so I understand.”
She continues, “I want them to find their best self. We remind they that they are “never not smart enough. It is about facing challenges, asking for help and finding solutions. We want them to work hard, little by little and be proud of their improvements they themselves have learned. We want them to be happy with their accomplishments.”
We help kids feel connected.
Sandra firmly believes that EVERY child benefits from the program. Her unique perspective empowers her to remind these kids that this is not a babysitting program. She remembers “how nice it was having a place where I felt special — because I did not play any sports and I was not part of anything. In my job now, I try to make a space for everyone to fit in. It’s important for everyone to feel special. Because everyone IS special.”
Sandra recognizes that “kids need love and attention. Unfortunately, parents these days are stretched thin trying to support their families financially so they might not have time to listen as they might otherwise do.”
Sometimes the small gestures can make a huge impact. She recalls,“ I remember being very excited about the computers that we had at the club because I didn’t have one at home. I played games and had a great time because I was not able to at home.”
Sandra also remembers how “I enjoyed the candy bars! The staff would sell them for $1 after homework time! It was the best thing and I looked forward to it since I had a long day in middle school and I was hungry!”
These days we “greet each student daily when they turn in their cards – and check on them throughout the day. Whether it is the independent, self-directed child in the corner or the struggling student, she encourages staff to reach out and make those all-important connections.” Sandra simply loves to see kids happy.
“ I remember having a place where I could hang out with my friends and be myself. We would laugh, play, and have a good time.” reminisces Sandra. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with this community of kids….they are the future.”
What advice do you give the kids?
- Encourage kids to get off their phone – and do something.
- Explore different interests.
- Ask how someone’s day is going.
- Show compassion and patience for each other.
- Be open-minded.
What do the kids teach her? A Lot!
These wonderful kids have helped me change my perspective. I realize that whatever is going on in their lives matters tremendously to them, even if it doesn’t seem important to outsiders.
I’ve also learned a lot of patience. I try to listen – without judgment – when kids are expressing themselves and sharing stories about homework (and their social life.) I take their concerns seriously and try to cheer them up. We work on goals to improve things and then track their progress.
I have learned to be more open-minded. Social media is new to us – but it is impacting our kids significantly and it very hard on them. We look to educate ourselves more so we can offer support in this area. For example, we teach them that anything they post on social media will be there forever and to be responsible.
Three things you might not know about Sandra….
1) She loves tacos – actually anything with corn tortillas! She actually ate 22 in one seating. Her favorite brand is “Finca”.
2) She loves to dance! When she was young, she dreamed of being a hip hop dancer while she practiced in front of the mirror.
3) She enjoys reading in her free time.