As the Executive Director of BronxWorks, Eileen Torres knows how to make the most out of her resources. BronxWorks is a non-for-profit agency whose mission is to help individuals and families improve their economic and social wellbeing. The south Bronx based organization touches the lives of over 45,000 individuals and families a year. Throughout its 38 locations with the hard work and dedication of their 900 employees, the agency feeds, shelters, teaches and supports their neighbors to build a stronger community.
Executive Director is a title that Eileen earned after working for 20 years at BronxWorks. Eileen’s goal for her career was always to “do good”. After going to high school in the Bronx, she became the first person in her immediate family to go to college, and went on to law school. She announced to her family that she wanted to work in public interest, and her father tried to persuade her to become an attorney at a firm and just donate money and volunteer her time. Although she did not listen to her father’s advice, she has made him very proud through her career at BronxWorks. Starting off in an Administrative Services role, she helped the organization grow and found her work to always be changing and challenging. Her advice for young professionals is that promotions, for those who want to lead, take time and to be patient. She also advises all to work hard for what you want because the harder you work the more respect you earn.
Although her days are often long and sometimes difficult, she relies on her support system, just as her organization tries to be a support system and build support systems for those utilizing the BronxWorks services. One of Eileen and the organization’s biggest challenges comes from misunderstandings about non-for-profits. Eileen explains that the future for BronxWorks, and organizations like hers, is anxiety ridden and dependent upon government support. In order to support the programs and services that BronxWorks provides to the community, the organization needs the capital to have the infrastructure that all other organizations also have. The funding for the organizations technology, human resources, and finances professionals is often overlooked. They partner with other organizations that can complement their services and always try to stay as true to their mission as possible. Eileen and BronxWorks have to do more with less, but walking through the BronxWorks sites inspires Eileen to keep going and gives her a sense of pride.
Eileen explains that her role is essentially to be the team leader to the organizations staff. Her team is very dedicated to the organizations mission and many being from or living in the Bronx, have a huge connection to the borough. The success of the organization also comes in part from having volunteers give their time to those who are in need. Eileen explains that throughout her career, every person who has volunteered has left saying how rewarding the volunteer experience was. Whether it was reading to kids in an afterschool program or playing pool at a senior center, volunteers leave BronxWorks programs with a sense of fulfilment and Anthony explains how helping others can really energize us. Eileen’s staff keeps her informed of events, so that she can stop in and be reminded of the good that she is working for.
Learn more about BronxWorks and how you can give back or volunteer: http://www.bronxworks.org/