50 Years of BronxWorks – Crisbelly Contreras: From Participant to Staff Member

A side by side of Crisbelly Contreras. On the left, her in 2012 as a participant. On the right, her as a Program Assistant working for BronxWorks.
BronxWorks Program Assistant Crisbelly Contreras as a participant in 2012 (left) and working for BronxWorks in 2023 (right)

We love the opportunity to revisit past BronxWorks stories and share updates on our past participants’ success. Crisbelly Contreras was a part of BronxWorks Children & Youth after-school programs and returned to BronxWorks as a Program Assistant in our SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention program.

In 2012, for our 40th Anniversary, we highlighted Crisbelly’s family. She and her two brothers came up through BronxWorks after-school and summer camp programs at 1130 Grand Concourse. Her mother, Cristina, was a working single mother who relied on BronxWorks as a “safe place” for her children. She spoke to us about how she loved the BronxWorks staff and programming, saying she felt that, “This environment is good for them…I see the difference!”

A mother and her two children stand together next to a playground.
Crisbelly (right) with her mom and younger brother

Crisbelly, who started attending programs at age 7 in 2004, spoke about how at BronxWorks she learned moral values like “respect, responsibility, and caring”. She also recognized how frequently the staff integrated the themes of “Going Green” and making healthy food and beverage choices into the programming. She says today, “The programs were definitely good for me. I have really fond memories of going camping, going to Coney Island every year, Santa coming to visit, swimming, making smoothies and much more. It felt great to be in a space where I was able to make friends, learn and still have fun during after school and summer camp. My brothers also expressed to me how much fun they had.”

Two women speaking to a crowd. There is a black tablecloth printed with the SNAP-Ed NY logo on it.
Crisbelly (left) teaching a Nutrition Education class alongside BronxWorks Nutrition Educator Jairy Padro at Hostos Community College.

Crisbelly joined BronxWorks as a summer camp counselor in 2017, achieving one of her childhood dreams. “Since I was a kid, I always knew I wanted to work for BronxWorks when I became an adult. It was one of my dream jobs to work as a summer camp counselor!” She came back in 2022 to join the SNAP-Ed program full time. In her work as a program assistant, she goes out into the community and offers nutrition education classes along with her peers that focus on the MyPlate nutrition plan and how to cook healthy meals on a budget.

A woman in a blue apron shows another person how to make a kale and apple salad at an event.
Crisbelly offering a cooking demo for a Kale and Apple Salad at an outreach event in 2023.

“Working for BronxWorks again as a Nutrition Assistant was definitely influenced by everything I learned while being a participant here,” she says. “I learned the importance of eating healthy and being active at a very young age and understood the importance of sharing that information to my community because of BW. It feels like such a full circle moment to be able to assist in nutrition workshops and create healthy living content to share with my community today.” Crisbelly also manages the BronxWorks Healthy & Livable Mott Haven social media accounts, crafting messages that go out into the community to further the message of SNAP-Ed.

Many people stand together holding signs supportive of LGBTQ+ rights.
Crisbelly (lower right) and some of her fellow LGBTQ+ Committee members at an October 2022 event.

In addition to her work with the SNAP-Ed department Crisbelly is also a co-chair of the BronxWorks LGBTQ+ Committee, a group of staff members from across the organization dedicated to ensuring BronxWorks is an open, welcoming, and affirming environment for LGBTQ+ service recipients, staff, and the community. She says, “I decided to become co-chair of the BronxWorks LGBTQ+ Committee because I wanted to continue to support my communities in different ways. I love that BronxWorks has different committees that help support and inform staff members on a variety of things.”

Folks like Crisbelly who return to BronxWorks after being a participant are evidence of the large impact BronxWorks has had on the Bronx over the past 50 years. Meet some more of our incredible staff and read more stories like this.

To see the original story written for our 40th Anniversary, click here.

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