They Make It Happen

As we head into Fall and the season of gratitude, we’re taking some time to celebrate some of our amazing Side by Side staff members who have been with us for 10 years or more. Their dedication to Side by Side’s mission, to walk with young people impacted by adversity toward a future with connection and meaning, truly makes everything we do possible.

Carla Mello (13 yrs)

Clinical Case Manager, TAY Space

“I love the values of Side by Side and what we stand for,” says Carla. “As an agency, we really care about the youth and I appreciate that so much. I also really enjoy my coworkers and my supervisors,” she says. “I always feel cared for, supported, comfortable and loved. I have never thought about leaving!” 

What inspires Carla to come to work every day is a sense of hope. “In the beginning, I had some youth who were homeless and had no hope. Now they are going to school and have stable homes and stable jobs. They have turned their lives around. It gives me hope that we can make a difference. That keeps me coming back.”

Suzie Burns (20 yrs)

Housing Services Case Manager, Real Alternatives

Suzie says it has been an amazing journey working at Side by Side. “The resilience of the youth we serve and their desire to persist despite their struggles encourages me daily,” she says. 

Suzie also appreciates that the agency is trauma-informed. “Everything we do at Side by Side is thoughtful and mindful of the needs of our youth.” Suzie says, “But the greatest thing about being at the agency for 20 years? Youth who are 26 come back and visit me. They are thankful, and give credit to the work we did together that has helped them to progress in life. I get to see them thriving as adults despite their challenges during their teenage years. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Teamwork makes the dream work!”

Wendy Terada (20 yrs)

Teaching Assistant, Irene M. Hunt School

“Working for a nonprofit organization that touches the lives of young people makes me feel like I’m making a difference when I come to work every day,” Wendy says.

In addition to working with youth, the secret sauce that keeps Wendy engaged after all these years is the supportive work environment and the wonderful Hunt team. “The team at Hunt is amazing,” she says, “and it really does take a team. We get to know each other well enough to recognize in each other when we need to take a break. Each person is part of our chain of what we do. That’s what makes it work.”

Ramiro Roman (11 yrs)

Maintenance, Real Alternatives

Ramiro’s job as maintenance technician for Side by Side's transitional housing apartments in Hayward and San Leandro keeps him busy. “I really like what I do! I love helping the youth,” he says. “When I see the smiles on their faces after I fix something for them, it makes me happy. They talk to me and confide in me. It feels good to be an adult they can count on."

Ramiro also says that he appreciates his supportive work environment. “My supervisor treats me so well. Side by Side keeps me happy, and I feel good working here, so that’s why I have stayed all these years.” 

Arturo Lopez (18 yrs) & Jorge Ortiz (21 yrs)

Maintenance, San Anselmo Campus

Arturo says he loves his job at Side by Side because there's always something different to work on at the San Anselmo campus so he never gets bored. “I like that I get to take care of the plants, flowers, and trees because they make the place look beautiful,” he says. Arturo loves it when Hunt students say hello to him. He also says he enjoys his co-workers and his supportive work environment. 

Jorge enjoys the variety that his job as maintenance worker brings. “Everyday there is something different to do,” he says. “I like to work on different projects. I don’t ever get bored!” A 21-year veteran of Side by Side, Jorge remembers when there was residential housing at the San Anselmo campus (now home to the Irene M. Hunt School and administrative buildings). After all these years, he says what keeps him coming back is the people. “I like the people I work with, and I enjoy meeting staff when I visit our other offices.”

Side by Side’s deep impact is possible thanks to our most valuable asset: our compassionate and committed staff. Side by Side employees come from all walks of life, with widely varying backgrounds and experiences, but with the shared goal of honoring each client’s unique needs and strengths. We strive for our workplace to be a safe place where everyone is respected and valued for who they are. To explore the possibility of joining our team, click here.

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