Bright Space Connector Iris Torres Featured in ‘I am Bright Horizons Spotlight’
Connector Iris Torres was recently interviewed for the “I am Bright Horizons Spotlight” series featured on BrightWeb, the company intranet. In addition to being a passionate and enthusiastic volunteer with the Bright Space at Samaritan Village, Iris is the Lead teacher at Bright Horizons at Columbus Circle in New York City.
Here’s the article:
How did you get involved with the Bright Spaces program?
My team and I were looking for something more we could do for Bright Horizons and the community as a group and thought this was the perfect opportunity to get involved with the work of the Foundation. The Foundation connected us with Samaritan Village, a rehabilitation and living facility for young mothers with children that provided on-site childcare, which was close to our center.
Once the partnership with Samaritan Village was established, we wanted to get to work right away! But rather than going in and just starting renovation projects in their three classrooms, I really wanted us to spend some time getting to know the team at Samaritan Village. We spent the first six months just getting to know one another and understanding their needs. They had very minimal supplies and between all of the caregivers there was not much classroom or teaching experience, so every week we invited two of their team members over to our center to shadow our team and use our teachers as resources. This was so impactful and contributed so much to the overall success of our partnership. We were able to get to really know them and understand their needs as well as the needs of their center and this created such a meaningful connection between us all. I think that those first six months we spent investing in one another and the relationship that grew from that is what has made this Bright Space and partnership so successful.
When it came time to start working on-site, we donated things from our center that we no longer used and used the funds we had through the Foundation to buy the classroom supplies they needed and were able to do some surface-level renovations that really improved the look of the classrooms. We saw how much of a transformation this was – not just in appearance but also the quality of care and education was continuously improving as the team gained confidence and acclimated to their new and improved classrooms.
This just motivated us even more to continue supporting the center, which I’m so proud of. We started doing training with the mothers at the facility to help them be more connected to their children and have held fundraisers, including bake sales and bed and linen drives. We also won a $10,000 grant for Samaritan Village at the Foundation’s annual golf tournament and were able to give all of the classrooms a much needed makeover! We met with the team and made a list of all of the things that needed to be done and we were able to repaint all of the classrooms, stripped, buffed and waxed the floors, and bought new toys, rugs and furniture for the classrooms! We also spent time with the team making sure everyone knew how to take care of the new floors, walls and furniture so that they could be enjoyed by families, staff and children for years to come. It’s really powerful to see teachers helping teachers, caregivers helping caregivers – it’s such a wonderful reminder that we’re all in this together.
The Foundation has supported us every step of the way these past two and a half years and my Director has been so wonderful about finding coverage and supporting us whenever something needs to be done. My coworkers are incredible and are always willing to help, always looking for ways to give and, always trying to improve and make things better. And the families at our center love getting involved by donating things for the Bright Space and checking in to ask us how things are going. It’s been such an incredible and rewarding experience and brings me so much joy knowing we’ve impacted the lives of so many young mothers and their children.
Iris – thank you for your time, energy, passion, and hard work. You are changing the lives of so many at Bright Horizons, the Foundation, and in your community. We are so lucky to have someone with as much HEART as you as part of our BH family.