Staff Spotlight: Dan Vatnick, Enrollment Coordinator Extraordinaire
There are several departments here at BBBSMB, each with their own key functions that drive match success. This week, we spoke with Dan Vatnick from the Enrollment team—the magical match makers—about his work prior to joining our organization, what an average day on the Enrollment team is like, his experiences as a Big in our Mentor 2.0 program, and much more. Enjoy!
1. Tell me about your background before coming to BBBSMB. Why were you attracted to BBBSMB as a place to work?
Before working at BBBSMB, I was a family support worker. I was providing in-home therapy to kids, families, and providing support to parents/guardians via treatment plans, problem solving, etc. I worked directly with a licensed clinician to provide care, but was often doing the sessions on my own. We were part of the Intensive Family Services team, providing wrap-around care to families the most at risk to have their kids put in long term residential placement. I was essentially a social worker without the degree. It was extremely important work, but also emotionally exhausting. I felt like I was going crisis to crisis, fire to fire, and not able to actually impact the root causes of many of the challenges that our clients faced.
I’ve always loved working with kids, and actually used to help run a mentoring program (and was a “Community Friend” myself) for college kids/local youth when I was in school. When I heard about BBBSMB I immediately loved it. The fact that it’s directly working with kids and families; that it is preventative work that adds another protective factor to kids’ lives; and that the agency itself has such a great culture. I’m going on two years here and couldn’t be happier!
2. What does a typical day as an Enrollment Coordinator look like? What are you currently working on?
I wouldn’t say there is a typical day as an Enrollment Coordinator – there are few different kind of days. Some of your days are interview days – either in the office interviewing prospective Bigs, or out in the community interviewing families/kids to be Littles. Other days you’re doing the processing work to get everyone ready to be matched – including finding and making the matches themselves! Other days can take on a pretty hectic cadence with everything else in between. Right now I’m finishing up launching our workplace program, which has involved a lot of visits to Sterling middle school as well as to the workplace they’re partnered with.
3. What is most rewarding about your job? What makes it all worthwhile?
I think the most rewarding part about this job is the smile you see on a Little’s face during their match meeting. The logistics of making matches and having to take the same steps for each application, regardless of program type, can be repetitive at times. But that feeling is immediately erased when you see a kid light up when they meet their Big for the first time. Asking the question, “Do you know who this is?” which is then soon followed by the “my Big Brother/Sister??” response, typically provides the best results!
4. What site based work are you currently doing? What has your experience with the BFDS program been like?
I’m currently working on our workplace program at Boston Financial Data Services (now DST). We match middle schoolers from Sterling Middle School with employees at BFDS, and the Littles go to BFDS to see their mentors two times a month for an hour after school. This year we were able to make 10 matches, which brings the program up to around 35 matches. That’s about 10% of Sterling’s population! The guidance counselors there are our site contacts, and they have been fantastic. It’s pretty cool to see how well they know all of the kids, and the school absolutely loves the BBBS/BFDS program. We’ve rolled with the punches so far, and program launch went great!
5. You are currently a Mentor in our Mentor 2.0 Program. Tell us about your match and how being a Big influences your work.
This is my second year being matched to Andrew, who is now a sophomore at BGA. It’s been a very cool experience getting to know Andrew. He had a tough start to freshman year, and so seeing the growth he’s had up to this point is really gratifying. I would say being a Big makes me that much more passionate about getting kids mentors. We did an exercise where Andrew drew his support network, and even though we had only been matched for a few months, he included me in that drawing. I think that hit home the most – our kids really do thrive with the more positive adults they have in their lives.
6. What about Mentor 2.0 appealed to you over Community Based mentoring?
Honestly, the flexibility. I travel a lot on weekends, and have other commitments like playing soccer, etc. I often wish Andrew and I could be a Community Based match, and so we’re hoping to meet the requirements for the School Plus program, which would allow us to see each other outside of BGA.
7. What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a Big?
Be yourself! Cliché as it sounds, that’s all a kid needs from you.
8. How would you describe the culture at BBBSMB?
I’m a fan of the fact that when I come in to work, I know I’m going to see my friends. That’s pretty cool, and not something that I feel is entirely common. I also feel incredibly supported by our leadership team, and know that they’re always in my corner.
9. What advice would you give to someone who is considering coming to work at BBBSMB?
Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose. But really – now is the time to do it! We’re growing rapidly, and on the forefront of the mentoring field. If you’re ready to learn and take on responsibility right away, this is the place for you!