In connection to FACES of PEACE, Inc., last month being National Volunteer Month, and March being Women’s History Month, we’d like to share the story of an employee who’s a woman and a volunteer.
Andrea Bernard is the Adult and Youth Services Manager at our Viola G. Chisholm Eastside Family Resource Center. She’s responsible for planning, supervising, and directing the activities, services, staff, and operations of the adult and youth services program. Furthermore, she trains and supervises volunteers for her program in addition to supervising and conducting outreach to the community.
In total, Andrea has worked for nearly 15 years at PEACE, Inc., though she did leave a few years ago to gain experience in the field of education, only to return to the agency 2 years ago. Her work with the Syracuse City School District allowed her to make a significant impact as well as gain valuable insights about education, community building, and support. The experience of leaving and returning to PEACE, Inc. has also solidified her passion for the agency’s work.
When asked what gets her up in morning, she says, “As a result of working at an organization where I feel valued and respected because of the work I do, I wake up in the morning ready to go to work”. Through her role, she’s able to motivate, inspire, lead, and learn from people. She says that PEACE, Inc. does not put a limit on how to help. If a person is asking for assistance in a specific area, PEACE, Inc. exhausts all avenues to assist their clients. Even if that means helping clients in nontraditional ways.
As we continue to celebrate women’s history and volunteer months, Andrea is reminded of the rights that she enjoys today: freedom from violence, slavery, and discrimination; education; property ownership; voting; and a fair and equal wage, all made possible by women who fought and died for these rights. Andrea states, “Therefore, I now stand on the shoulders of giants who paved the way for me. Without their strength and courage, I would not be able to accomplish the work I do today”.
In addition to her day to day work, Andrea is also a Big Sister in the PEACE, Inc. Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. She was encouraged by a BBBS staff member to become a Big Sister; she was reminded that she has much more to give to her community. Andrea has a been a Big Sister for four years, and she’s known her Little since she was 12 years old.
Mentoring has impacted the Andrea’s life in many ways “After my daughter left, I never thought I could feel the pride and joy of watching a young woman grow up again–but I was wrong”. She’s been able “to watch her Little evolve into the beautiful young lady that she is today and help her along the journey.” Her Little also loves to do hair, and she’s great at it, to the point that she’s getting paid to do my hair!
Andrea’s say that “Mentorship is important because I get the chance to place ‘gems’ into my Little’s life.” Andrea wants her Little to know the value of community and love; she makes sure they spend time volunteering in the community.