GARFIELD, N.J. – The kids.
That is what Alejandrina Banch, who goes by Sugar, emphatically says is the best part of working at the Boys & Girls Club of Garfield.
“Just hearing, ‘You took a chance on me, you showed me a little bit of love, and here I am.’ I don’t think I can ever put a price on that. I’ve attended so many graduations with kids that I’ve watched grow up through the club,” she said.
Banch, director of operations at the Boys & Girls Club of Garfield, was recently named “Professional of the Year” by the Garden State Professional Association. Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the state nominated employees. Banch was chosen out of all of them.
“Mrs. Banch has dedicated the last 15 years to servicing the City of Garfield. She has impacted hundreds of kids for the better. She is a true Champion of Garfield and our community is better with her influence and impact," said Shane Sudol, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Garfield.
Banch has spent about half her life at the club, starting at 16 as a volunteer counselor. She said she has done almost every job there, including secretary, program manager, front desk receptionist and site coordinator. As director of operations, she now oversees things like programming, scheduling, hiring and special events.
But it all comes back to the kids.
She said she gives job opportunities to high school students to help them build their resumes. And she has a special place in her heart for children who are struggling.
“A lot of the time the children that misbehave, everybody is so quick to turn their backs on them, and I feel like those are the kids that need us the most … those are the kids that we really need to just dig inside and get them to open up,” she said.
Banch said she never thought she’d receive an award for her work, and gave credit to her colleagues. “At the end of the day, without my team, none of this would be possible,” she said.