Staff Spotlight: Jamie Lefebvre, Match Support Coordinator
There are many moving parts here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay that contribute to the success of our matches. None of the work we do would be possible without the collaborative effort of each department, however, many of our matches are likely most familiar with their professionally trained Match Support Coordinators. Their routine check-ins with Bigs, Littles, and their families help each match reach their full potential. This week, we spoke with Jamie Lefebvre, Match Support Coordinator at BBBSMB, about her work experiences prior to joining BBBSMB, her commitment to empowering children, and much more. Enjoy!
Tell me about your background before coming to BBBSMB. Why were you attracted to BBBSMB as a place to work?
Prior to coming to BBBSMB I worked in group homes and foster care in NJ and NYC. I have always been very passionate about social justice and working with children. The foster care agency I was working at in NYC had Big Brothers Big Sisters representatives come and discuss the benefits of the program and how they wanted us to know that they worked to also match children in foster care. I was blown away by BBBS’s mission and how they aligned with my own, so when I decided to move to Boston I applied to BBBSMB and am so happy that I did.
What drew you to the Match Support role? How has your past work experience helped you in this role?
I really enjoy talking to people, problem solving, and building relationships; which are great characteristics of a match support coordinator. I also was drawn to the opportunity to engage matches face-to-face through our site-based, campus-based, and workplace programs as a Match Support Coordinator.
I have a lot of experience working with low-income families and trauma survivors. That experience has helped me be able to think on my toes, coach individuals who may have not experienced those things, manage my time appropriately, be resourceful, and build rapport; all of which is helpful in the match support role.
How do you interact with the families and Bigs you serve on a daily basis? How important are those communications?
For my community-based matches, I speak with them on the phone either monthly or quarterly for 15 minutes. Those 15 minutes are integral to both my relationship with the match and also the match relationship because it is my opportunity to build rapport with the parent/guardian, child, or volunteer as well as assess how the match is doing in terms of building a trusting, healthy, and safe mentor-mentee relationship. In that time, I also have to trouble-shoot any obstacles that they are facing and give them the resources they need to be successful in their match.
What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?
Hearing the personal and academic growth of the children I work with from the parents/guardians is the most reward part of my job. I love hearing that my little’s made their basketball team for the first time, made honor roll, seems more confident, went to summer camp for the first time, etc. It absolutely warms my heart and I am so glad to be part of their journey.
What site-based work are you currently doing? What has your experience interacting with matches been like?
I have a workplace program in Quincy, MA. The program is really important because we can serve much more youth in Quincy with the program than we can solely through the community-based program. For my workplace matches, I see my matches face-to-face a few times a month, meet with the volunteers in person bi-monthly for extra match support, and talk with the parents/guardians quarterly through phone calls, emails, and newsletters.
I really enjoy building the curriculum for my workplace program and having the opportunity to see my matches in action. It allows me the opportunity to see their growth and have fun alongside them! This month I started a monthly newsletter to keep the school board, BBBSMB, and the workplace more informed on what the program does day-to-day. It gives the matches an opportunity to be interviewed and highlighted; the matches seem to be really excited about it, I already have a list forming for who wants to be highlighted next month.
You are currently enrolled in a Master’s program. Tell us about the program you are enrolled in and how your classes are impacting your work.
Currently, I am a graduate student at UMass Boston in their Mental Health Counseling program. It is an incredible program that is stacked with highly-qualified professors that are experts in the field. My counseling classes have definitely impacted my work. They teach me how to be a better listener, empathic, and help my matches find their own solutions to obstacles they run into during their match. My sociocultural class has helped me be more open-minded and well-informed in regards to the multi-cultural and multi-dimensional populations that we work with. This upcoming semester I am taking counseling youth and adolescents and human lifespan and development. I believe these classes will help me engage more purposefully with the children I work with and understand them more thoroughly.
You work partly in-office and partly from a remote location. What factors influenced your decision to work remotely? What is working from a remote location like for you?
I began working remotely when I started school. I had classes two nights a week and it just made more sense to work remotely on those days. Since I do not get a lot of scheduled calls, I spend the earlier part of the day entering my support assessments, catching up on emails, and doing any other paperwork that is needed. I really like that I have the ability to work remotely because I am self-motivated, driven, and a relatively independent worker; I like plugging into my laptop, listening to music, and inputting support assessments.
However, you have to manage your time and be self-motivated. It can be tempting to stay in bed or watch a movie since you are home and no one is directly supervising you there, so it is not a decision that should be made lightly. Sometimes it can get stuffy staying in your apartment all day, so I like to go to the local coffee shop and that can help my motivation.
What does it mean to work for BBBSMB?
To me, working for BBBSMB means changing the lives of youth in the area and creating a sense of community that is focused on positive youth development.
How would you describe the culture at BBBSMB?
The culture at BBBSMB is welcoming, open, and supportive. I have always felt welcomed and comfortable amongst my co-workers and feel that my ideas are heard. I remember being nervous to tell my supervisor about starting school and she was immediately delighted at the news! She asked me what I would need to do to be both successful in school and at work and is still flexible. I am continuously challenged to do more and better myself both personally and professionally and have grown immensely since starting here in November 2016.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering coming to work at BBBSMB?
If you are passionate about the mission and values that BBBSMB encompass, I would say apply! And if at first you don’t succeed, apply again! That is what I did; at first, I was offered an interview for a position that started in June 2016 but I would not be in Boston until August so I had to wait. I watched the website closely and immediately applied when I saw the position open again, and I don’t have a single regret. It is hands-down the best non-profit that I have worked for, and I worked for a few prior to coming here. However, this is not a job for someone who isn’t passionate about social justice, working with at-risk youth, low-income families, and both adults and children with trauma. To a degree, the matches success and people’s safety is in your hands and that should not be taken lightly nor will it always be easy. You will have people relying on you, and you need to come through for them, so passion is important.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
When I am not working I enjoy being physically active and adventurous. I like going to the gym, hiking, traveling, reading, spending time with friends, and playing sports. Of course, being a full-time student and full-time employee does not leave too much time for these activities, but I do my best! I believe self-care is really important, especially to prevent burnout, so I make sure to make some time for me.