Influential Female Social Workers

The Compass – March 2024


In the United States, March is recognized as Women’s History Month. March also happens to be Social Work Month! Luckily, at Everstand, we have many influential and impactful women who are also social workers. This month and next month we will celebrate our Social Workers and Clinicians and all the work that they do for our communities.

Social work is not easy; it requires empathy, compassion, skill in active listening and communication, cultural competence, patience, flexibility, and the ability to advocate for clients. Social work requires a heart of gold, and we are lucky to have so many incredible social workers at Everstand!

What exactly do social workers do, and how do they strengthen communities?

Social workers are at the front lines, addressing issues such as mental health care, economic insecurities, inequalities, protecting the vulnerable and so much more!

At Everstand, our Social Workers do so many amazing things for our youth, including:

  • Equip families with the proper tools to be successful through challenges and build resiliency for the future.
  • Connect children with families and resources.
  • Counsel kids going through difficult situations and help them build skills and independence.
  • Advocate in the community for vulnerable children.


The Most Influential Female Social Workers in History

Mother Teresa

For a lot of people, the first name that comes to mind when discussing female social workers is Mother Teresa. She was born in Macedonia during the year 1910 and, after spending around three decades in Yugoslavia, she shifted to India.

Mother Teresa dedicated her whole life pursuing social causes and one of her most standout efforts is the Missionaries of Charity. This is a Catholic congregation, operational in over 130 countries, and runs hospices and homes for people suffering from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and leprosy. They also run dispensaries, clinics, orphanages, soup kitchens, schools, and counseling programs for families and children.

As a result of her untiring efforts to help the helpless, Mother Teresa was awarded the Noble Peace Prize award in 1979.

Frances Feldman

A professor in the University of South Carolina, Frances Feldman’s groundbreaking research in the 1970s helped shed light on workplace discrimination against cancer patients. Her research revealed novel evidence that co-workers and employers often placed harsh (if not illegal) conditions on any cancer survivors within their organization. As a result of Feldman’s study, several states throughout the US made changes to the fair employment legislation.

For over five decades, Frances Feldman explored the psychological and social meanings behind life and work. She also developed the very first staff and faculty counseling center at the USC – a center that serves at the blueprint for the USA’s employee assistance schemes and programs.

Jane Addams

Jane Addams was the woman responsible for the creation of the Chicago settlement houses, considered to be the very first in the world. Addams studied and understood the poverty issues rampant in Chicago, and, as a result, established the House Services in the city. This Service included a library and gymnasium, and even conducted educational classes for both adults and children.

Jane Addams established the Philanthropy and Civics school in Chicago and was also elected the first women president for the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. Her social work and contributions led her to win a Noble Peace Prize Award in 1931.



Social workers continue to inspire and create change within our communities. Our very own CEO, Laurie Anne “LA” Spagnola is a Social Worker. Let’s continue to celebrate our Social Workers and the impactful work they continue to for our communities and our kids!


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, Everstand

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Celebrating Black History Month

The Compass – Feb 2024


Black History Month, celebrated annually in February, is a time dedicated to celebrating the rich heritage, achievements, and resilience of Black people. While we reflect on the numerous contributions of Black individuals to society, it’s also crucial to address the challenges and disparities they face, particularly in the realm of mental and behavioral health.

The profound influence of historical trauma, systemic oppression, and social determinants of health within the Black community cannot be emphasized enough. These factors often exacerbate mental health issues, leading to higher rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other conditions. Despite these challenges, there is a spirit of resilience and strength that continues to thrive within the community.

One area where the intersection of Black history and mental health is keenly felt is within the foster care system. For many Black children and adolescents, this system becomes a lifeline, offering support and guidance during times of crisis. However, it also highlights the systemic issues that disproportionately affect Black families, including poverty, inadequate access to healthcare, and overrepresentation in the child welfare system.

Throughout our programs, the importance of culturally competent care cannot be overstated. It’s essential to recognize and affirm the unique experiences and identities of Black youth, providing them with a safe and supportive environment where they can heal and thrive. This includes incorporating culturally relevant therapeutic approaches, acknowledging the impact of racism and discrimination on mental health, and fostering connections with positive role models within the community.

At Everstand, we are committed to addressing the needs of Black children and families with compassion and empathy. Through our culturally responsive programs and services, we strive to empower individuals to overcome adversity, build resilience, and create brighter futures. We recognize that healing is not a one-size-fits-all journey and are dedicated to providing personalized care that meets the unique needs of each individual we serve.

As we reflect on Black History Month and honor the legacies of those who have paved the way, let us also recommit ourselves to creating a future where disparities are eliminated, and every individual has the opportunity to thrive. Together, we can build a more inclusive and equitable society where all voices are heard, valued, and uplifted.

In closing, let us remember the words of Maya Angelou:

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” May we face the challenges ahead with courage and compassion, knowing that through unity and understanding, we can create positive change for generations to come.


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, Everstand

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Human Trafficking and Difficult Conversations

The Compass – Jan 2024


When you’re talking about something uncomfortable, you can often feel the discomfort present in the room. Human Trafficking as a subject is no exception, especially when one considers needing to navigate this conversation with young people who may have no idea they may be vulnerable but must be taught what the warning signals are just in case.

Through Everstand’s Regional Navigator Program, we are engaging with our community to bring awareness. This year, as part of Human Trafficking Awareness month, Everstand will be participating with the Anne Arundel County Human Trafficking Awareness Red Sand event and presenting about the work we do to combat trafficking and help survivors and suspected survivors of human trafficking.

Our CEO, LA Spagnola, recently gave a webinar to Pennsylvania State University attendees about human trafficking awareness and how Everstand’s therapists and care team help program participants move forward in their lives from the trauma they experienced from trafficking.

Everstand sent out information to its staff during Human Trafficking Month so that we can educate and make our talent aware of the signs of trafficking. Here is what was shared:

Highlights of some of Everstand’s important work to combat human trafficking and empower survivors:

  • Everstand’s Regional Navigator Program (RNP) has provided community-based support to survivors of human trafficking in Anne Arundel County, Maryland since 2021.
  • Our RNP is kicking off 2024 with exciting growth: our staff will double thanks to expanded funding!  This comes as Maryland has recently expanded Regional Navigator Programs to now cover 22 of 24 jurisdictions in the state.
  • Everstand’s Lotus Program has provided specialized residential care in Maryland for female survivors and suspected survivors of sex trafficking since 2018.
  • The Lotus Program gained national recognition in 2023 at the Association of Children’s Residential & Community Services (ACRC) Annual Conference in Minneapolis. Some of Everstand’s directors presented on their application of harm reduction concepts in residential care for survivors of sex trafficking.
  • In 2023, Everstand worked to help pass legislation in Maryland that protects the rights of survivors via the Safe Harbor Act and secures ongoing funding for victim services programs. In Maryland’s 2024 legislative session, Everstand plans to support the efforts of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force to pass new legislation to codify protections for labor trafficking survivors and expand the impact of Regional Navigator Programs statewide.

Many thanks to our Lotus and RNP teams for the impact they have on our youth, families, and communities each and every day! Throughout this month Everstand will be promoting human trafficking awareness via our social media platforms – please follow and share to help spread the word.

Here are links to statewide efforts to combat human trafficking in our primary service areas:

What can others do to help? Start with not being afraid to talk about the hard stuff.


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, Everstand
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Choose Kindness

The BCC Compass – Dec 2023


If I tell you that you can change the world, would you believe me? Believe it. It’s simple but can be a challenge: it’s to choose kindness.

As the Director of Spiritual Life, I’ve challenged everyone at BCC to perform Random Acts of Kindness during the next 30 days. Intentional kindness is not only good for the spirit of the one receiving the act, but also the one performing it.

Care to join us? (the list is below)

We encourage everyone at BCC to live with Joy and Purpose. Having a purpose is the essence of humanity and it is the idea and belief that we are part of something greater than ourselves. This can manifest in many ways big and small.  Just like you’ll see on the challenge list!

BCC is fortunate to have people from so many different traditions. We encourage and support everyone to live out their faith and purpose. During the Holiday season, I host an open chapel where we share holiday traditions, learn about one another’s tradition, and enjoy some festive desserts.

Challenging you to choose kindness during this holiday season – and always!  Can’t wait to check as many of these challenges off my list and I hope you do the same!


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore


BCC Holiday Kindness Challenge

  1. Donate to a food bank
    It’s not always easy to put food on the table. In fact, many families struggle. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 10.2% of households were food insecure in 2021 — roughly 13.5 million people. Consider donating non-perishable items to your local food bank. Or, if you can, think about making a monetary donation to help fight hunger and erase food insecurity.
  1. Leave one-dollar bills around the dollar store (especially in the toy section)
    How fun would it be to see the look on people’s faces when they discover that it seems like dollars are growing at the “dollar tree”.
  1. Send a handwritten letter
    Text messages and emails may be fast and easy, but they lack a personal touch. But receiving a handwritten letter in the mail? That’s priceless. Take the time to write out a thoughtful message to a friend or family member. You’ll be surprised how much they appreciate the effort put into it — and who knows? They just might write you back!
  1. Volunteer your time
    Sometimes the most valuable present of all is the gift of time. Your presence, whether it be with loved ones or someone in need, can go a long way toward making a tangible impact on someone’s life. Consider volunteering a few hours of your time at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
  1. Shovel snow for a neighbor
    You may not realize it, but even the smallest favors could make a big difference. Shoveling snow, for instance, is an important household chore in the winter months, but not necessarily an easy one for elderly or disabled people. Taking that burden off their shoulders is a good deed they’re sure to appreciate.
  1. Shop at local businesses
    It’s important to support small businesses, especially now that over half of consumer shopping budgets are spent online. Being the season of giving, the holidays are essential to independent stores’ overall financial well-being. Choosing to shop locally can help small businesses survive well into the future.
  1. Participate in a toy or clothing drive
    Not every child is fortunate enough to receive presents during the holiday season. And, by the same token, many people go cold during the winter chill. Fortunately, you can lend a helping hand by donating gently used toys and clothes to organizations that support these worthy causes.
  1. Make care packages for your members of the Armed Forces serving overseas
    Beef Jerky, Pringles, pillow cases, Old Bay, toiletries, are always appreciated by those who are unable to be home for the holidays.
  1. Tape spare change to a vending machine
    Imagine the disappointment you’d feel if you went to grab a snack from the vending machine only to find yourself a few nickels short of your favorite go-to treat. Luckily, you have the power to make sure that doesn’t happen. Taping change to the machine may not satisfy your hunger, but it’ll certainly bring a smile to a stranger’s face in their time of need.
  1. Hand out compliment cards
    Compliments are a great way to spread the holiday cheer, even to people you don’t know. Write down heartfelt affirmations on a notecard, then hand them out to friends, coworkers and strangers you encounter. A few words here and there could really uplift someone’s spirits.
  1. Pick up litter alongside your street
    Did you know there are nearly 50 billion pieces of litter on U.S. roadways and waterways? Unfortunately, it’s true — but, the good news is you can do something about it. Join the effort by walking your neighborhood streets and picking up litter as you go.
  1. Let someone cut you in line
    The holidays are a busy time of year, especially when you’re out shopping. Next time you’re in a store, practice patience and courtesy by allowing someone to cut ahead of you in line, especially if they have fewer items than you. Although it’s a small gesture, you never know what it might mean to someone else.
  1. Go caroling with your neighbors
    Caroling is a staple holiday pastime. Not only is it a fun and happy experience, but it’s also a chance to spread joy across your community. So, gather up your family, friends and neighbors to sing a few happy songs for those who could use it, such as people in nursing homes or hospitals.
  1. Bake cookies for coworkers
    Help your colleagues get in on the holiday spirit by baking them a tray of festive treats. Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies — whatever the choice, they’re sure to appreciate the effort. Plus, sweets are a great way to make your workplace a warmer and friendlier environment.
  1. Donate to charity
    Consider making a charitable donation to a good cause. Do your due diligence and research a charity close to your heart. Your contribution, no matter how big or small, will make a world of difference during the holiday season. Donating doesn’t always mean monetary, consider donating your time.
  1. Tape Microwave Popcorn to a Red Box
    Complete someone’s movie night with popcorn.
  1. Provide a generous tip
    Working in the food industry is hard work! Give an unexpected blessing to your server to show your appreciation.
  1. Leave a bouquet of flowers on a stranger’s car, desk, porch, or just give it to them as you walk by them on the street.
  1. Smile at 5 strangers in one day
    Dolly Parton said, “If you see someone without a smile, give ‘em yours!”
  1. Put together Blessing Bags and keep them in your Car.
    Hand them out when you encounter someone who might need them. click here to access the Picnic Project for some ideas
  1. Put Money in the Salvation Army bucket
  1. Bring treats to your local fire department or the night shift at the local hospital.
    Our front line workers do not get much time off. Brighten their day with a treat. The night shift gets forgotten at times.
  1. Pass out bottles of water
  1. Donate food, blankets, toys to your local animal shelter. If you can, volunteer to walk and pet the animals up for adoption.
    So many animals need human connection and love in order to be adoptable. Consider providing some food and “practice” for these animals as they wait for their “fur-ever” home.
  1. Carry $5 gift cards to a coffee shop or food establishment you frequent.
    Rather than paying for the person in behind you in line, turn around and give it to them or give it to someone walking through the door as you leave. Your barista will thank you.

These are just some ideas to get you going. I hope you take some time to bring some kindness to those around you, especially complete strangers, you never know just how far your act of kindness could spread!

Happy Holidays!

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Won’t you be my neighbor?

The BCC Compass – Nov 2023


One of my favorite theologians is Rev. Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” An ordained Presbyterian Minister, the impact of his teachings has crossed many generations.

I recently shared one of his quotes with a group of our senior leaders during our centering moment:

“It’s no secret that I like to get to know people–and not just the outside stuff of their lives. I like to try to understand the meaning of who people are and what they’re saying to me.”

As I offered a reflection, I mentioned that it takes time and intention to get to know your neighbor. If we really want to know who our neighbor is, we must be intentional with the methods to get to know them. Approaching with an open mind, rather than a bias or prejudgment, is an ideal way to meet with your neighbor.

During this same meeting, Ruth Wong De Balderas and Sharnett Kelly, leaders in our Baltimore Caminos Program, shared their experience of a cultural immersion trip with the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church to the Mexico and California border. The group traveled to the area where those seeking asylum were detained, then released. The purpose of this trip was to invite people to experience what the migrants to this country have experienced. The group was able to interact with other organizations providing services to the migrant community.

One of our core values at BCC is empathy. Empathy is allowing yourself to experience what others may be going through, and through empathy we can develop compassion. Sharnett and Ruth both expressed the importance of understanding and experiencing what the kids they care for have gone through. It allows them to be better caretakers and gives them a deeper understanding of how to provide for these children.

Our BCC neighborhood encourages others to get to know their neighbors. When we know who our neighbors are, it makes it less difficult for us to care for and understand them. Many conflicts and animosity can be avoided if we get the chance to know our neighbor.
Immigration is a hot button topic and people have passionate opinions on both sides of the issue. One of the stories that I like to share is about one of my military colleagues who was present during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. As the planes filled up, commanders noticed that children were being left with Soldiers or being tossed over the walls in desperation. Leadership said “Chaplain, we need an orphanage.” The chaplains present there established an orphanage where they ensured the safety of the children. She cataloged more than 300 kids, and they all were flown back to the states. She did not know what happened to those children after they left Afghanistan.

A year later, I met with her and she told me that story. I looked at her and told her that some of those kids ended up at the Board of Child Care and they were safe and being loved here in the United States. It brought a sense of relief and closure to her.

Stop and get to know your neighbor’s story. You never know who might be in the neighborhood.


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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What Exactly Is A Chaplain?

The BCC Compass – Oct 2023


Chaplains are present in many intuitions such as Tysons Food, the US Military, Congress, hospitals, colleges, and the Board of Child Care. But what exactly is a chaplain? Some might think that they are not religious and there is no need for a chaplain. After all, there is a separation of church and state, right? Let us explore a few things:

Chaplain vs Pastor/Clergy

Chaplains are representatives of their faith traditions: Christians (of different denominations), Islam, Jewish, Humanists, Buddhists etc. who have received specialized training to minister in a pluralistic environment. Many chaplains are clergy people (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams) but – at their ministry setting – they are chaplains because they are available to all people and provide care to all regardless of faith or no faith tradition. Chaplains understand what it means to serve in a pluralistic setting.

Why does BCC and other institutions (including secular ones) have a chaplain?

Chaplains care for people, offer pastoral care, and provide religious services such as ordinances and sacraments. However, chaplains also have another unique role. They advise on topics such as religious freedom/accommodation, ethics, and morality.

With BCC’s history with Methodism, having the spiritual caretaker on staff is part of our heritage. Spiritual care is a broad perspective, not just of religion, but being spiritually ready to face whatever the next hurdle may be.  At BCC, we also see this role as a tool for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion. The chaplain helps, along with the EDI committee, to ensure that practices, policies, celebrations within the organization possess an EDI perspective and celebrate people as they have been created. Along with that, the promotion of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness is part of the culture we would like to embrace at BCC.

Chaplaincy is evolving, as the world is evolving, but the thing that remains consistent is that spiritual care and readiness, a sense of purpose, is important in maintaining a healthy individual. At BCC, the chaplain is used in many ways but the focus is still to care for our talent and caregivers and to ensure that there are avenues for EDI initiatives, to help change our communities through the family called the Board of Child Care.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Growth

The BCC Compass – September 2023


Nelson Mandela once said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Education—be it a college degree, vocational school, or learning a trade—can drastically change a person’s position and situation. Education can open doors and windows to opportunities that otherwise might not be available to an individual.

Unfortunately, a higher education can be costly, and many come from a place where it might not be feasible to attend pay for it. Those driven try to find ways to pay for it. Some are able to secure scholarships to fill in financial gaps. Others join the military and take advantage of the education benefits they get from their service. A majority end up in debt through loans.

At BCC, we see the need to make education more accessible for others. Not everyone has the ability to secure scholarships, join the military, or have had parents set aside money for a college fund.

As such, it has been part of our ethos to develop our talent and promote growth, both professionally and personally. We are able to do that through our college tuition assistance program where we provide members of our staff with $5,000 a year to help pay for a degree or certification. Though not everyone uses the benefit, those who do are able to attain something that they otherwise might not be able.

Let’s face it: there are careers that require degrees and training. On-the-job and life experiences are invaluable, but industry standards also dictate the requirements needed for various career fields. BCC hopes to bridge the gap between our staff’s talents and their opportunities for growth. That is equity.

As we move toward the future, we plan on highlighting the benefits we provide to our talents in order for them to be successful. The tuition reimbursement program is one of the best practices currently in place to retain, train, and invest in our people. We hope to highlight our talents who have used it and celebrate their achievements. Graduation party anyone?


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore

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Imua: Move Forward Towards New Beginnings

The BCC Compass – August 2023


August doesn’t signify the start of a new calendar year, but it has always felt like a time of new beginnings for me.

For some, August means returning to reality after a summer vacation. For students and teachers, it means kicking off a new school year. For all, the promise of crisp, cooler temperatures is in the air as we prepare to wel come autumn.

We are moving towards a time of change, which can often be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

This past June at our Strawbridge School commencement ceremony, I talked about the idea of “Imua” in Hawaiian culture, my personal heritage. Imua means “to move forward” or “to move ahead” towards a goal. I am sharing this message with our wider community as we all collectively dive into a new season of life, whatever that may look like for each of us. This may be a time of challenges, celebrations, adventures, or peace — no matter what, I encourage you to take this idea of Imua with you. Move forward through the change, working towards the goals you have in place for yourself.

So what does Imua mean?  The term was made famous by King Kamehemaha I, the ali’i (king) who unified the Hawaiian islands. Before battle, Kamehameha would rally and call out to his warriors. He would say, Imua e nā poki‘i a inu i ka wai ‘awa‘awa, ‘a‘ohe hope e ho‘i mai ai.” This translates to: “Forward my young brothers and drink of the bitter waters, there is no turning back.”

When I think of Imua and how to take steps forward in times of change, I am often reminded of this quote from U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven.

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter… And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

The little things in life can make the biggest difference and the most impact. Keep doing those little things that bring joy and purpose, even if it’s just making your bed. It will give you the confidence you need to go forward through life as change and new beginnings come your way.

I wish you Imua and a wonderful start to this new season.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore

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Juneteenth 2022 vs. 2023: A Learning Experience

The BCC Compass – July 2023


The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. A practice we have here at BCC is to learn from what we have done in the past and adapt it to our current practices, realizing that there is not just one way to complete a task.

In June we had celebrated Juneteenth across the majority of our organization and it was deemed a “great success.” We learned and integrated best practices from the event last year.

Here is an excerpt from the Compass blog written by our CEO, LA Spangnola wrote last year:

“At BCC, we set a goal to improve our celebration and understanding of Juneteenth. In 2021, just days before the federal government approved Juneteenth as a federal holiday, BCC put together its first Juneteenth celebration. Staff members who worked that day received double pay, and we organized meals at several BCC campuses. But we quickly realized we didn’t include enough staff in the planning for the day. This year, we reached out to more staff members and received more feedback on how to celebrate Juneteenth in a way that was truly meaningful. We also added more educational opportunities about the holiday so staff throughout BCC could gain a deeper understanding of the day’s meaning.”

Here are the ways that we implemented the lessons learned from last year:

1. Each campus (PA, WV, and MD) had a planning team that consulted other staff and each other in planning

2. Menu was planned accordingly to cultural celebration and appropriate decoration were used

3. Appropriated funding and support was allocated by the EDI committee

4. Educational materials, such as bulletin boards and handouts about Junteenth were given away at the celebrations

Even with the “great success” we still have an opportunity to learn and grow as we plan for next year. The big realization is the need to be intentionally inclusive of all our campuses and also include them in the planning and execution of our celebration. With this in mind, we endeavor to:

  • Assign an EDI outreach person to each campus to ensure that all BCC locations are included in the celebration conversation.
  • Create and print out more educational materials to be distributed to the campuses.

With every EDI led initiative and celebration, there is room to learn, engage, and improve. That is the great thing about this work: we are always learning and growing together!

Moving forward, especially as we prepare for our agency-wide Hispanic Heritage Celebration, we will keep in mind the lessons learned from our past events to help us share with the world the richness of the people at the Board of Child Care.

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Fostering Inclusion and Empowerment: Embracing Queer Youth by Supporting Queer Employees

The BCC Compass – June 2023


We hold a significant responsibility to ensure the well-being of all our youth, and this includes those who identify as members of the –queer community. Queer describes sexual and gender identities other than straight and cisgender. Queer is sometimes used to express that sexuality and gender can be complicated, change over time, and might not fit neatly into either/or identities, like male or female, gay or straight. Creating a supportive and inclusive environment for queer youth extends beyond direct care – it includes fostering a workplace culture that supports and empowers queer employees and creating positive relationships and role models for marginalized youth.

To effectively serve marginalized communities, BCC strives to understand the intricacies and complexities of marginalization. To do this important work, we rely heavily on the efforts of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) Committee. Our EDI Committee is an organization-wide committee of employees that work together to advocate for marginalized groups in our workforce. Through the work of the EDI Committee, we encourage employees to share their experiences, concerns, and ideas related to marginalized inclusion.

Creating a safe environment of open dialogue and communication is essential in supporting queer employees.

By actively listening to and addressing this feedback, BCC can ensure that the voices of queer employees are heard, and necessary improvements are made. Through this feedback, we have launched many initiatives that benefit the queer community, such as the expansion of employee benefits to include unmarried life partners. These modifications will help our employees with the stressors outside of work, and in turn create a more positive milieu for our employees.

Encouraging the visibility of queer employees is also integral to the support of queer youth. For any marginalized community, visibility challenges narrow societal expectations and demonstrates the richness and diversity within the group, dismantling harmful assumptions and misconceptions while promoting a more accurate understanding of their experiences, struggles, and contributions. This is especially critical to the youth we serve, many of whom come from environments barren of acceptance and understanding. In addition to the emotional benefits for the employee, visibility of our queer employees helps to show our queer youth that both support and success are attainable; it allows youth to see a bit of themselves in employees and serves to strengthen their positive relationships and, ultimately, their own personal identity.

To cultivate a workplace of understanding and visibility, BCC strives to foster an inclusive culture that embraces diversity, aims for cultural competency, and respects the identities of all employees, including but not limited to:

  • Comprehensive non-discrimination policies that explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Inclusivity and diversity training for new employees.
  • Conversation-style educational seminars for current employees and teams.
  • Equal opportunity for career advancement and professional development.
  • Gender-affirming healthcare coverage.
  • Inclusive parental leave policies for same-sex couples.

As we grow in the regions we serve and as our employees become more and more diverse, BCC is always mindful of setting LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and benefits to support the well-being of queer employees. By addressing these specific needs, we honor our commitment to supporting queer employees, creating an inclusive workplace, and acknowledge that these offerings are integral for employee safety.

Cole Welsh (they/them)
EDI Committee Vice-Chair
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