Stanley Brajer is a member of LSC’s Class of 2018. His work at the United Way of Greater New Bedford places him at the center of a number of community initiatives. He is also an active volunteer in his home state of Rhode Island.
What do you do for work?
I oversee two Department of Children & Families (DCF) contracts for the United Way of Greater New Bedford, the New Bedford Community Connections Coalition (NBCCC) and Patch. The mission of NBCCC is to take a leadership role within the City of New Bedford in facilitating collaborative strategies to build neighborhood-based networks of family support to prevent child abuse and neglect, strengthen families, and build healthier communities. Through this work, we collaborate on and lead different initiatives focused on providing support to vulnerable children, families, and other segments of the community. Patch is an approach to practice in human services that refers to a limited geographical area that is served by a locally based team of human service workers. The term also refers to how these teams approach their practice. In New Bedford, the Patch model links the protection work of DCF with the prevention work of family support in neighborhood-based settings. We provide support for the advancement and promotion of this practice.
How are you involved in the community?
In addition to having the Coalition involved in several different community groups, I also serve on the board for the Greater New Bedford Allies for Health & Wellness. On a personal level, as a Rhode Island resident, I have served as the Chair of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation for about one year. Surfrider is an activist network that is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches for all people. I’ve also been a volunteer and surf instructor with Amp Surf, which provides surf clinics for amputees and other individuals with disabilities.
What did you find most valuable about participating in LSC?
There were many things that I found very valuable, but if I had to focus on one I would say that the diverse array of experiences and topics discussed were extremely valuable. Even though my work is focused on social work and child welfare, it was great to hear from other sectors and topics I am interested in. LSC offers a unique and valuable opportunity to learn from individuals outside of your own sector.
2020 has been a year like no other with COVID-19 and longstanding racial and political divides reaching new heights. How are you leading during these unprecedented times?
Much of our work involves planning and striving to achieve more long-term solutions. As the Covid crisis has progressed, I’ve had to step back and think about where we could be useful and how our work might look different. Early in the crisis, a collaborative group had already formed to start addressing issues related to vulnerable populations. I joined the group and started listening; eventually offering up some support to help the group stay connected and informed by documenting notes, continually sharing resources, and coordinating and monitoring a Slack workspace. As conversations around equity began and others noticed that the group was talking about this, I convened a subgroup for several weeks which focused on addressing racial and cultural equity related to Covid-19 and discussed supporting the Racial Justice Movement.
What leadership advice would you offer the LSC network?
Don’t lose sight of your purpose and don’t lose sight of your own self-care. I think that it is critical that if you want to get through any stressful time, you need to remember why you do what you do and for whom you are doing it for. At the same time, I think it is important to maintain perspective, so that you don’t put too much unnecessary pressure on yourself. I find that often when you really step back and think through a situation, you may be making it a bigger deal than it needs to be and therefore creating more stress. Chances are you will feel better and be more productive if you take time for self-care. Also, don’t get caught up trying to multitask! I am guilty of this even as I sit and try to finish writing this!