For staff member Fabiola, kindness is the guiding force that has influenced both her work and personal life. In her own words, Fabi, “thrives on helping others,” because from a young age she witnessed kindness in her home. Growing up, Fabi’s mother was a foster parent and this experience shaped Fabi’s perspective on life. She witnessed firsthand the adversities that her foster siblings faced. A passion for service lit up inside her and she has carried that spark ever since.
Fabi is now pursuing a Master of Social Work degree and is a foster parent herself, mentoring and housing two teenage boys in her home.“I learned that everybody is different, that everyone goes through difficult things and that everyone has their own story.” She is mirroring the kindness she witnessed as a child and extending it to vulnerable youth.
Kindness is the reason why Fabi started working with LA’s BEST and why she has stayed with us for 10 years. Fabi opened up to me about her social anxiety and difficulty with public speaking. When she was a facilitator, she was often terrified when she had to present to large crowds but her team was there to cheer her on – they gave her confidence to continue being a facilitator.
Her team supported Fabi when she was mourning the tragic loss of her grandmother. Fabi gets emotional as she recalls how the office sent her a touching letter and a plant to show their support. When she talks about the staff at LA’s BEST, you can tell how grateful she is to work with staff that prioritizes kindness and compassion.
Fabi approaches leadership with the same kindness that guides her life. Before the Covid-19 crisis, Fabi was the coordinator of the LA’s BEST Book Buddies program in partnership with the AARP Foundation. Volunteer senior citizens were paired with elementary school students to read to improve student’s reading skills and foster healthy reading habits. Fabi loves this program because of the relationships and connections students made with the volunteers and how fulfilling the volunteers found the experience.
Since schools have been closed, the volunteers have not been able to connect with students. Fabi began to lead Zoom check-ins with the volunteers and explains, “I saw my role as making sure the volunteers were taken care of even if we weren’t running the program as usual. It’s especially touching for me because my grandma used to live with us and she often told me how lonely she felt. A lot of the volunteers don’t have contact with their families so when they got to the program you could see how much it fulfilled them and how much it meant to them.”
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and shifting priorities, Fabi began to lead the social media team for LA’s BEST’s new platform, LA’s BEST Connects, which is where we met. Through working with Fabi I realized that kindness is at the center of everything she does, from her work with LA’s BEST to her personal commitment to helping others, Fabi leads with her heart.