Having a friendly face to greet you can sometimes make the difference between a good experience and a bad one. For Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County members entering the Goshen Clubhouse, that friendly face belongs to Claudia Hernandez.
She handles the chaos of dozens of members arriving at once from various schools at the start of the afternoon — and makes the process flow like a well-oiled machine.
“You get used to it. Sometimes it’s five things at once. You just know what to pause so that you get the most important things done first,” Hernandez said.
This is her second time working for the Goshen Club. She worked for Club until 2018 when she left to pursue other opportunities and returned last April.
“When I wasn’t here I talked a lot about the Boys & Girls Club. This is where I grew as a stronger, independent woman with four kids. My boys grew up here and learned a lot here. It’s like family.”
She credits Club with helping her boys mature and develop.
“With four boys it could be rough as a single mom. The respect they had for the staff helped them grow up to be good men. I have a lot of respect and love for what this Club has done,” Hernandez said.
Now, she’s happy to be back and having her three step-children take part in the programs.
“They love it here, too. It’s safe and it’s a learning environment for them,” she said.
That’s an important priority for Hernandez — making sure that kids feel safe. She loves that she can reassure parents who speak primarily Spanish.
“I explain to them what is happening with their kids. I help the kids understand what is happening when there is a language barrier,” she said. “It’s nice when kids who know little English can feel welcome. The parents also feel like this is a safe place for their kids.”
Hernandez said she gets joy ever day by seeing the members at Club.
“I love how different the days are with them. Sometimes they’re silly and sometimes they’re not in a good mood. Even when I’m not in the best mood, seeing them changes it. It puts me in a better place,” she said.