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 program. 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 Education 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.

Read more
BronxWorks Stories

Read More Stories

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Marjorie Jeannot

Marjorie Jeannot

As we celebrate National Women’s History Month throughout March, BronxWorks is proud to highlight some of the dedicated staff who ensure the success of our programs. One such individual is Marjorie Jeannot, Department Director of Family Shelters at BronxWorks.

Marjorie has worked at BronxWorks supporting the community for more than 20 years. Directly upon completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences at Stony Brook University, she began her career at BronxWorks as a case manager for an eviction prevention program. Marjorie went on to complete her Master’s in Social Work at Columbia University. After receiving her Master’s she returned to BronxWorks as a Program Director for the Living Room, which is comprised of a drop-in center and safe haven.

As the current Department Director of Family Shelters, Marjorie oversees all BronxWorks residences for homeless families. This includes residences supporting nearly 90 migrant families and those seeking asylum in the Bronx. “It’s very difficult work, but it’s rewarding work and I wouldn’t trade it for any money,” Marjorie says.

Marjorie grew up in Haiti and immigrated to the U.S. when she was fourteen, which later inspired her to take on the impactful work she does today. As an immigrant herself, she understands the importance of connecting these families to essential resources and making sure they feel like they belong.

Our goal is to enhance the quality of their lives and to really make them feel seen.”

-Marjorie Jeannot, BronxWorks Department Director, Family Shelters

If you want to learn more about Marjorie’s story, watch the News 12 Story that recently featured her as a part of their month-long National Women’s History Month celebration spotlight.

Read more
BronxWorks Stories

Read More Stories

Op-Ed: Help Needed for Those Helping Newcomers to New York City

Read more
Press Clippings

Read More Press Clippings

BronxWorks Department Director of Family Shelters profiled for Women’s History Month

Read more
Press Clippings

Read More Press Clippings

The 2023 TCS New York City Marathon

Join #TeamBronxWorks in the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon!

Sunday, November 5, 2023

BronxWorks is proud to once again be a charity partner of the TCS New York City Marathon! Join the thousands of runners participating in this worldwide event! In every marathon since 2009, our team has made a big difference for Bronx children and youth, and you can join the ranks of some of our incredible runners!

By becoming a charity runner for BronxWorks, you will get:

  • Guaranteed entry to the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon.
  • Your own personal GiveSmart fundraising page.
  • A virtual meet & greet with the other runners and BronxWorks staff.
  • A shirt showing off your BronxWorks pride!

When you commit to run for #TeamBronxWorks, you commit to raising a minimum of $2,500 by race day, Sunday, November 5. We also ask that all of our runners raise a minimum of $500 by no later than August 12.

Once your fundraising page is set up, you will receive a personal link to share with friends, family, and colleagues. We will also promote your fundraising efforts on the BronxWorks.org website, BronxWorks social media channels, and in our monthly e-Newsletter.

Once you have reached the $500 threshold, you will receive a personal invitation code to officially register for the race. You must register for the race using this code and pay the NYRR registration fee ($255 for NYRR members, $295 for non-NYRR members) to secure your spot on #TeamBronxWorks.

Last year, all five of our runners raised a total of $13,575 for Bronx children & youth! These funds went toward:

  • After-school programs and summer day camps for low-income families, benefiting both children and working parents
  • Programs to help adolescent children  negotiate the challenges of teenage life and the transition to high school
  • Academic tutoring, college prep, and SAT prep to give Bronx youth access to the benefits of higher education for a brighter future

If you would like to run for #TeamBronxWorks, fill out the form below! It should take less than five minutes to complete. Spots will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. If you need any more information, reach out to BronxWorks Digital and Content Manager Aaron Cipollina at acipollina@bronxworks.org.

Contact bronxworksdevelopment@bronxworks.org for more information about BronxWorks or go to our website, BronxWorks.org.

Apply to be a part of #TeamBronxWorks! Fill out the form below!

If you can not see the form below, click here to open it in a new tab.



Thank you, once again, to our 2022 runners!


Read more

Read More Events

NYC Test & Treat Corps’ Aftercare Program Completes a Half Million Outreach Calls for New Yorkers Recovering From COVID-19

Read more
Press Clippings

Read More Press Clippings

50 Years of BronxWorks – Recognizing Kathryn Speller

A woman sitting at a desk. There are two graphics added, one is the BronxWorks logo and one is a graphic that says "50 Years". There is text at the bottom that says "Supporting the Bronx since 1972"
Former BronxWorks Clerical Aide Kathryn Speller, seen here in 2012.

Our organization would not have thrived for the past 50 years without some incredibly dedicated staff. During our last milestone in honor of our 40th Anniversary, we recognized retiring Clerical Aide Kathryn Speller for her lifelong dedication to public service. Now 90 years young, Ms. Speller continues to advocate for young women in the Bronx and children & youth in any way she can.

Ms. Speller spent her life dedicated to the people of the Bronx. She moved her family to the borough from Harlem in 1968 in the midst of public school desegregation and then spent time working for the NYC Department of Health Bureau of Pest Control, where she became their union representative, kicking off a long career of advocacy. She later worked at her Community Board, and it was during those years she became very familiar with BronxWorks, then called Citizens Advice Bureau or CAB. She developed a close relationship with then-Executive Director Carolyn McLaughlin.

Ms. Speller says today, “When I was on the community board, Carolyn was our go-to person. CAB was the only agency doing what they do in the Bronx when we were recovering from the days of the Bronx burning in the 1970s.” She remembers when the Morris Senior Center in her community was under threat to close, saying, “The community was having a meeting that they were going to close the senior center, and everyone said ‘No, we’re going to Citizens Advice Bureau’. Carolyn went to the board and got the proposal to run the center. No matter what we asked Carolyn and CAB to do, they at the very least looked into it and frequently got answers to the questions and problems we had.”

Shortly after retiring from her job at the Community Board, she reached out to Carolyn and joined Citizens Advice Bureau in 1996, working for our organization for 16 years. Looking back on her time as an employee, she remembers current Executive Director Eileen Torres when she first joined the organization. “I remember Eileen, I came to work here when she was just finishing law school. Just to see what this young lady has done since she became the Executive Director of such a great organization, I’m so proud of her. Her leadership has been so fantastic.”

She also sends a message to all the staff of BronxWorks: “I wish everyone at BronxWorks a happy 50th Anniversary. Keep doing what you’re doing, helping the community from the young people to the old people. Here’s to another 50 years.”

The success and longevity of our agency is due to all the thoughtful, dedicated, and amazing staff, like Ms. Speller, who have come through these doors. 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.

Read more
BronxWorks Stories

Read More Stories

BronxWorks Family Outreach Event

BronxWorks Family Outreach Event

Thursday, March 2, 3pm-6pm
1130 Grand Concourse, 2nd Floor Gym

The BronxWorks Family Wellness Program and Adult Literacy program will host an open outreach event for families in the South Bronx. Learn more about program offerings at BronxWorks as well as services from other family- and children-based programs in the area! There will also be food, games, and an opportunity to connect with community members.

Participants will be able to sign up for our offerings including the Saturday Wellness Program, Weekday or Saturday Adult Literacy Classes, and more!

For more information please reach out to Program Director ShaQuanna Cody-McGrew at scodymcgrew@bronxworks.org

Read more

Read More Announcements

New York Liberty Hold Basketball Clinic For BronxWorks Middle School Girls

Read more
Press Clippings

Read More Press Clippings

BronxTalk With Gary Axelbank – BronxWorks 50th Anniversary

Read more
Press Clippings

Read More Press Clippings