On April 24, 2024, Santa Maria is celebrating Administrative Professionals’ Day, and we have an extra special reason to celebrate Jazmín Nuñez. From her early days as a program participant in the Every Child Succeeds (ECS) program to her current role as Santa Maria’s Bilingual Office Coordinator, Jazmín’s journey exemplifies Santa Maria’s mission to help families achieve their education, financial, and health goals.

Since 1999, Santa Maria has partnered with the Every Child Succeeds (ECS) program, offering intensive home visitation services to guide new first-time parents through their baby’s crucial first 1,000 days. These early years, as recognized by the National Institutes of Health, are vital for a child’s overall development, laying the foundation for a lifetime of health and well-being. Parents enrolled in Santa Maria’s ECS program receive invaluable support to nurture their baby’s growth and ensure a strong start in life.

Jazmín’s family is among the many individuals and families we’ve had the privilege to serve over the last twenty-five years through our partnership with ECS. Jazmín’s journey began when her family relocated from Laredo, Texas, to Price Hill in 2000. Five years ago, while pregnant with her first child, Eli, Jazmín was referred to Santa Maria’s ECS program. Under the guidance of her dedicated ECS Family Support Worker, JoAnne Dwyer, Jazmín embarked on a journey of growth and learning, ensuring both her and Eli’s health and well-being. JoAnne said, “Jazmín’s commitment to her son and building a better life are always on her mind. She thinks of the future and is motivated to achieve her goals.”

Together, JoAnne and Jazmín navigated the challenges of early parenthood, focusing on positive parenting practices, self-sufficiency, and preventive healthcare. JoAnne worked closely with Jazmín to ensure that Eli met all of his developmental milestones and health goals. JoAnne also brought educational activities for Jazmín and Eli to work on together, ensuring that he met his cognitive objectives. “Every Child Succeeds helped me to be the best mom I could ever be, especially being a first-time mom,” Jazmín said.

One of Jazmín’s biggest goals was for her family, which includes her partner, Rene, and Eli (they’ve since welcomed Elias, age 2), to get a place of their own. The three of them had been staying with her father, aunt, cousin, and Jazmín’s younger sister. All families enrolled in ECS create and develop a Family Goal Plan (FGP). The FGP is a goal aside from baby’s growth and development that is designed to add to the success of the family. Finding and affording her own place was Jazmín‘s FGP.  She and JoAnne worked together to budget, increase savings and find affordable housing.  As part of achieving that goal, Jazmín attended Santa Maria’s free Tenant Education class to have a clear understanding of tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities. In addition, through Santa Maria’s partnership with Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, Jazmín was able to save money on diapers every month.

With JoAnne’s continued support, and rental assistance through Santa Maria and ECS, Jazmín’s dream of providing a stable home for her family became a reality, symbolized by the joy of her family moving into their first apartment. “My biggest milestone that I achieved while working with Santa Maria was getting into my first apartment. We felt so happy getting our own place, where my 2-year-old (at the time) could grow.”

As Eli thrived and graduated from the ECS program, Jazmín’s journey took an unexpected turn when JoAnne told her about a job opportunity at Santa Maria. JoAnne said, “I encouraged her to apply because I knew from our 3-year experience together in ECS that her skill set, personality, and drive would be a perfect addition to Santa Maria’s team. I am thankful that we were fortunate enough to find such an amazing addition to our team!” Combined with her fluency in Spanish, inherited from her father’s Mexican heritage, she was a natural fit for the role of Bilingual Office Coordinator. Jazmín has flourished in her role, becoming the heart and soul of Santa Maria’s East Price Hill building. Her warm demeanor, organizational skills, and dedication to both colleagues and program participants alike earn her admiration and praise from all who cross her path.

Jazmín’s supervisor, Hillary Williams, Director of Supportive Services, said, “Jazmín is the heart and soul of our East Price Hill building. She has excelled in creating a welcoming environment for anyone who walks through the door, and she’s quick to take on added responsibility while doing it well. Her level of organization, her care toward staff and clients alike, and her friendly demeanor make her one of a kind.”

Part of her added responsibilities includes proofreading Santa Maria’s Spanish literature. Marketing and Communications Specialist Christy Cauley depends on Jazmín’s input to ensure translation accuracy. “Jazmín is such a valuable asset to Santa Maria and our program participants. I often throw last-minute translation requests her way, and she is always quick to respond. She always puts our program participants first.”

Chief Program Officer Julie Vazquez Ellis (McGregor) couldn’t agree more. “Jazmín has created such a welcoming space at East Price Hill for both participants and staff alike through her creativeness, her freshly made coffee, and her smile,” she said. Jazmín is happy to call Santa Maria her work home, “My goal is to grow in the company,” she said.

Today, as a vital member of the Santa Maria team, Jazmín continues to make a difference in the lives of others. From program participant to a valued staff member, Jazmín’s journey exemplifies the profound impact of Santa Maria’s partnership with the Every Child Succeeds program. As a dedicated advocate for her family’s well-being, Jazmín’s transformation from receiving support to providing it highlights the enduring commitment to empowerment and community within Santa Maria’s mission.