Nikki Aguilar is getting down to business and putting 11 years of experience working with young people to use as the new Middle School Teen Engagement Supervisor at the Goshen Club.
She joined the team about two months ago and has been working hard to create bonds with the teens.
“One of my biggest goals is to have the kids who are here recognize how great the program is. I want them to spread the word on how good the program is becoming as it grows so we can attract more teens in the community,” Aguilar said.
Before coming to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County, she worked at Lighthouse Autism Center and the Clay Church childcare center in South Bend. She also worked for the Kroc Center as part of the summer program.
Aguilar said she loves helping the younger teens grow.
“Their mentality is so pure. I feel with the right people, they can be influenced to become these amazing people. The world needs more of that. I think about the future and how to better them for the future,” she said.
The biggest need for most young people is making sure they’re getting the attention, love and care they need.
“When I was growing up, I wanted a lot of that. So, I’m here to be that for them. I believe God put me in this position for a reason,” Aguilar said.
While some people may prefer working with younger members, she enjoys the challenge of working with teens.
“I don’t give up. If it’s tough, I’m going to keep going. They’ve been testing me to see if I’m really going to stay. As I’ve been here longer, they’re opening up to me more and more every day. That’s been very rewarding,” she said.
Aguilar is working on a sociology degree and says that training is helpful in her role.
“I’m good at observing and analyzing behavior. If I see something that’s bothering them, I’m able to recognize it quickly,” she said. “I think I’m really good at reading people. That helps with the teens. They don’t always get noticed in other aspects of their life, so we want to make sure they’re connecting here.”
As she works to develop a strong program for the teens, she is establishing structure for the after-school hours.
“I think they want structure. I’m trying to give that to them. They’re great kids, but if they don’t have structure they will act out,” Aguilar said.
Part of that structure involves being a positive adult role model.
“When they see me present myself in a respectful way, that’s a way of showing them they can be into different things and still be seen in a respectful manner. The world has so many bad influences. When you surround them with positive influences, it can impact them — even if there are bad things going on around them,” she said.
Aguilar is working with Goshen Area Director Natalie Jerlecki to redesign the teen space at Club. She’s also excited to invest in Keystone Club, one of our most dynamic teen programs. It affords teens an opportunity to gain valuable leadership and service experience.
At the end of the day, Aguilar said she simply wants to make an impact.
“If I know I helped better at least one kid’s day, I know it’s been a good day. If they say, ‘it was a great day,’ it can bring tears to my eyes.”