Dedicating yourself to cultivating and caring for community youth takes a strong will and a big heart. Perhaps no one exemplifies this ideal better than Portage resident Teaundra Smith. Working as a School Age Child Care Coordinator at the Portage YMCA, Smith has a strong history with shaping children and the community as a whole.
“Patience is the key to working in this field,” Smith said. “But it always helps to have an open mind and make every day the best day you possibly can.”
Smith grew up in Portage and spent much of her youth at the YMCA. After graduating from Indiana State University with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Social Welfare, she returned to the Portage YMCA years later to help out the kids of the community.
“Coming out of college, I decided that I really wanted to work with kids,” Smith said. “My degree and overall dedication to helping children during their youth was a perfect fit. My position involves: managing, directing, and coordinating the school age childcare programs for assigned locations; ensuring high quality programs and establishes new program activities: expanding programs within the community in accordance with strategic and operating plans; recruiting, hiring, training, developing, scheduling and directing personnel and volunteers as needed; and reviewing and evaluating staff performance.”
Smith further explained that her motivation for helping the children at the YMCA stems from her strong desire to serve the community in any way, shape, or form.
“Being involved and getting to know all kinds of people within the community is incredible,” Smith said. “Working at the YMCA, seeing the kids slowly grow up and mature over time is awesome to see. Helping others in any way I can, especially during this pandemic, is what the words ‘community service’ mean to me.”
Smith says one of the best parts of her job is really just getting to know the kids through meaningful conversation. She states that even a simple exchange of words can leave a lasting impact on their lives.
“I feel very accomplished,” Smith said. “Even when our days get a little hectic and crazy, there’s always that one good thing that makes the day totally worth it. At the end of the day, I’m working my best to provide a quality YMCA experience for these children and getting the job done is incredibly satisfying.”
Smith wants to give a special shout out to her team. She states that all of this work wouldn’t have been possible without them.