Story 52 Estrella Montanez

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Estrella Montanez in the garden at the Nelson Avenue Family Residence, where children ages 3-17 plant herbs and vegetables.  

Staff Profile: Estrella Montanez

Born and raised in the Bronx, Estrella Montanez is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk families in the borough. As Residence Director at the Nelson Avenue Family Residence, she supervises all aspects of the residence's services for families and day-to-day operations. Estrella works with her staff to ensure that families have a positive experience in the shelter as well as a plan to move forward.
 
"Our goal and our approach are to assess a family's immediate needs and prepare a plan to get families back into the community," she said, "finding employment, saving, and exploring resources such as family and friends."
 
Estrella has a background in working in a variety of social service roles. After receiving her Bachelor's degree in Developmental Sociology from Cornell University, Estrella worked in a multi-systemic therapy program for youth in the juvenile justice system as an alternative to incarceration. "I worked to help them remain in the community and stay away from trouble," she said. 
 
Estrella's work inspired her to pursue a Master's degree in Social Work at Columbia University. After receiving her MSW, Estrella worked in an outpatient mental health program for children and youth. Having excelled in her previous roles, Estrella was ready for a more senior position. "I asked myself, How else can I assist in this field?" Estrella joined BronxWorks as a Case Management Supervisor in November 2015; her first supervisory role. Estrella was promoted to Director of Social Services at Nelson Avenue in January of 2016 and to her current role in May. "I've done a lot!" she says with a smile.  "All with children, youth, and families."
 
No longer in a direct service role, Estrella enjoys working with colleagues to have an impact. "I've grown to like seeing staff grow and develop," she says. Helping families secure housing has been particularly rewarding to Estrella.
 
"We recently had a parent with a child at camp and they just found an apartment. They called their child to say, I have a surprise for you when you get home," Estrella said with a smile. "It's their place that's big."
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