Recently, we profiled three people who have found fulfilling careers with Upbring. Their stories illustrate the many ways people can contribute to our life-changing programs and services.
Inspired by faith and compelled by compassion, our staff work every day to uphold our core values: We are Warriors. We are Servants. We are Family. Today, meet three more employees who find meaning in our mission.
Erika: Creating Happier Childhoods
Childhood should be full of happy memories — that’s the driving force behind Erika Noriega’s career in social work. “I had a wonderful upbringing, and I believe every child should have a life free of abuse and neglect,” she says.
As the Upbring Foster In Texas Area Director in San Antonio, Erika guides children and families through the foster and adoption processes. She and her team advocate for the children we serve, ensuring they are safe and have all the services they need to recover from trauma and thrive. They also provide training and coaching for foster parents, so they can become the best advocates for the children in their care. When these forces combine, children can begin to heal and learn what healthy relationships and a stable home life can look like.
Erika came to Foster In Texas nearly three years ago, having previously worked with other foster care and adoption agencies. “I was really drawn to Upbring’s values, transparency and leadership,” Erika recalls. “I also found the workplace culture to be fun, welcoming and positive.”
The work can be hard, of course, but also rewarding. “I love that Upbring thinks big about breaking the cycle of child abuse. It encourages me to know that I am truly helping change people’s lives for the better.”
Ricardo: Serving Up Stability
Sometimes, a meal is much more than a way to satisfy hunger. It’s about stability and security, and Ricardo Soto is proud to serve as Kitchen Manager at Upbring’s Grace House Children’s Shelter in McAllen, Texas. “We not only provide high-quality, nutritious food — we’re also providing consistency. The children in our care don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.”
Ricardo has enjoyed working as a chef for many years. But the demanding schedule often kept him away from his family for long stretches of time. He was determined to find a role that was a better fit. “I really yearned to find something different from what I was accustomed to,” Ricardo recalls. “Once I learned about Upbring, and how they help children and youth, I knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of.”
Nearly three years later, Ricardo’s team is responsible for serving three meals and two snacks a day at Grace House, a shelter for children who have crossed the Southern border without a parent or guardian. Upbring staff tend to the children’s immediate needs, providing the physical, emotional and spiritual care they need to recover from the trauma of their journey. In our home-like environment, these children can adjust to life in a new country — and eventually grow into adults who have experienced love and kindness, instead of only violence and chaos. We also work to reunite them with their families in the U.S.
Ricardo’s role may exist primarily behind the scenes, but he knows he’s contributing to our mission, day in and day out. “With the right people, we can absolutely make a difference in the lives of these children. Upbring is a great place to work,” he says.
Elizabeth: Blessed to be of Service
Like many people, Elizabeth Aleman keeps her faith at the center of her life. And so it is important to her that work and faith naturally intertwine. She has found that balance at Upbring — not once, but twice.
Elizabeth first worked with us in the early 2000s, then returned in 2016. Today she is the Clinical Director at Upbring’s New Life Children’s Center, our residential treatment program for girls ages 11 to 17. “My passion for serving youth has only grown,” Elizabeth explains. “By working with the girls at New Life, I am honoring God’s purpose for my life.”
Over time, Elizabeth has witnessed the evolution of our programs, always in the name of finding a better way of doing things. This dedication to innovation and systemic change resonates deeply, she says: “At Upbring we have a hunger to keep improving, to keep raising the bar so we can best serve Texas children and families. That’s what sets us apart.”
At New Life, located in Canyon Lake, innovation means keeping up with advances in trauma-informed care to reach and treat children in crisis. Elizabeth is proud to give the girls at New Life a voice and a sense of autonomy — two things that may have been absent from their lives in the past. She aims to be an adult the teens can truly trust. Watching them grow and adapt, she says, is a tremendous honor.
Along the way, Elizabeth has built lasting relationships with like-minded colleagues as well. “Every day I look forward to making an impact in these kids’ lives and working with people who share my passion for helping youth in foster care. I am SO blessed.”
See Yourself at Upbring
At Upbring, we are committed to breaking the generational cycle of child abuse. Our innovative programs and services make a tangible difference for Texas children and families, every single day. And this wouldn’t be possible without our people!
Want to join the team? Learn more about life at Upbring and view open positions at upbring.org/careers.