At Upbring, we like to say our greatest asset is our people. Upbring Warriors, as they’re called, are changemakers determined to break the cycle of abuse for Texas children and families.
Our employees are as diverse as the families we serve. They each bring their own personal and professional backgrounds to support our life-changing programs, whether it’s foster care, adoption, education, children’s centers or community services.
But all Upbring Warriors have one thing in common: A deep-rooted commitment to cultivating childhoods that are loving, joyful and full of hope. Inspired by faith and compelled by compassion, our staff are guided by our core values: We are Warriors. We are Servants. We are Family.
This is the first in a series of blogs profiling people who have found fulfilling careers at Upbring. Read on to meet a few of our Upbring Warriors!
Monica: Turning Hopes into Dreams
Monica Jones has been with Upbring for an impressive 15 years, but the seeds were first planted even before that. Earlier in her career, she was employed at a women’s facility within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. From there Monica moved on to a program for at-risk teenagers. Those experiences opened her eyes to the lasting effects of untreated childhood trauma, including higher rates of incarceration. She became determined to help stop this particular trend.
Then, Monica learned about a job opportunity at an Upbring Children’s Center for young girls in crisis. She has been working with us ever since, now serving as a Program Director. Every day, Monica combines her big-picture thinking with personal touches to make a difference for the youth in our care. She calls working with Upbring “a tremendous blessing” and feels empowered knowing she has the support of leadership behind her.
“I understand WHY I’m doing what I do — and that’s amazing,” Monica says. “I feel great when I help someone overcome a situation they originally didn’t see an end to. At Upbring, we’re turning frowns into smiles and hopes into dreams.”
Dantaya: A Welcome Challenge
Much of Dantaya Smith’s career has been dedicated to educating and protecting children. She worked in a preschool setting for more than a decade before a close friend alerted her to an open position at an Upbring Head Start Preschool in Houston. In 2020, she joined the Upbring family as an Implementation and Compliance Specialist.
“My friend felt Upbring’s core values aligned with mine. I took a look at myself, and I agreed!” shares Dantaya. “Upbring really equips us to identify, develop and implement strategies that inspire positive growth in young people.”
Head Start and Early Head Start provide a safe, inclusive place for young children from low-income families to learn, grow and thrive. An educator at heart, Dantaya enjoys tailoring her approach to every child and family. She takes particular pride in creating a safe space where parents can seek assistance for things like transportation and food, without shame — and reap the full benefits of the Head Start program. In her mind, the trust she builds is just as valuable as the tangible resources she provides. The right support can make all the difference in establishing a stable home life, one where all family members can flourish.
As she helps others grow, Dantaya can feel herself growing personally and professionally too. “Our work is challenging but also very rewarding,” she says. “It takes an open mind and a willingness to learn from others who have been in the trenches. And I welcome the challenge.”
Alaina: Like Working with Family
Every day that she reports for work at Upbring’s Grace House Children’s Center in McAllen, Texas, Alaina Hinojosa knows in her heart she is contributing to our mission. In her role of Clinical Director, she tends to children’s mental wellbeing as they recover from the trauma of traveling to the United States without a parent or guardian. As she puts it, “Children are the future, and we must provide the compassion, support and resources they need to thrive in our communities.”
Alaina came to Upbring over five years ago, drawn to the intimate, home-like environment at our children’s shelters for unaccompanied minors, which we operate in partnership with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Smaller shelters allow us to provide high-quality, one-on-one services to the youth in our care, so they can form positive relationships with staff and their peers and adjust to life in a new country.
Working for Upbring, Alaina says, is like working with a family. “At Upbring, everyone supports each other and is willing to lend a helping hand. It all comes down to finding solutions that benefit the children we serve.”
Join the Upbring Family
Upbring comprises 1,200 dedicated employees at more than 75 locations across the state of Texas. Our workplace culture embraces diversity and inclusion, and we believe every voice should be heard. If you would like to dedicate your time and your talents to breaking the cycle of child abuse for Texas children and families, consider applying today!
Learn more about life at Upbring and view open positions at upbring.org/careers.