When you work with kids every day, you need to be able to see things from their perspective. That’s something that Megan Bontrager tries to do as supervisor over several KidsCare sites for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County.
“I guess it’s personal for me. My brother and I didn’t have the best upbringing. I watched him struggle as a youth, so I take that with me when I’m working with the kids. You can be a support for the kids who need it,” Bontrager said.
She started working with KidsCare part-time four years ago as a way to supplement her job in retail, but that soon changed.
“I decided I didn’t want to do retail anymore, so I joined KidsCare full time,” she said.
That assistant position turned into a site coordinator job and now her supervisor role for Mary Feeser Elementary School, Eastwood Elementary School and Orchard View Elementary School.
“It’s definitely different. You go from working with one direct group of kids and getting to know them. In the supervisor role, you are filling in and visiting a number of sites. You get to know a lot more kids,” she said.
She tries to use her experience to help the KidsCare team as they work their individual sites.
“It was nice to move up because I know each of my site coordinators and what they’re going through,” Bontrager said.
When asked to identify the thing she likes most about her job, she said she can’t.
“I love working with the kids. It’s hard to pick just one thing. There’s always something to do. I’m always busy. I like being faced with different challenges and getting to be a coach. I like to be of support to the staff and build the relationships with them,” she said.
She knows the impact she and the team have on the young people they serve.
“It’s super important for the kids. You’re the first face they get to see in the morning, so you set the tone for the day. If they start out a little rough, you can turn the day around. You’re also the last person they see before they go home.”
The overall goal is to create a safe place for them to go when they can’t be with their parents.
“I think working with kids just comes natural for me. I feel more purpose in life working here than in other places. That’s what keeps me coming back every day.”