The Caring Force Blog Workforce Hero Spotlight: Cristiano Santos

The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our next TCF Hero Spotlight honoree is Cristiano Santos, a case manager at Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center. Throughout the pandemic, Cristiano has been working with families in shelters each and every day. His colleagues described him as someone who connects with every client – doing everything he can to ensure they feel safe, supported and cared for.

Here is what Cristiano had to say when we asked about his career in human services:

How did you decide to pursue a career in human services?

“I decided to pursue a career in human services after learning from a good friend of mine that Travelers Aid Society of Boston, now Family Aid of Boston, was in the process of developing a scattered site family emergency shelter program to temporarily house 15 homeless families in the Boston area and they were looking for someone that was bilingual to assist families that spoke Spanish, Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole. I thought it was a great opportunity for me to use my language skills to assist low income families in securing permanent affordable housing, enroll in ESOL classes and find jobs. I also felt that I would be able to assist local landlords in renting their units and connect them with some City of Boston programs to fix up their houses by participating in the Section 8 program.”

What is your favorite professional memory?

“Very difficult question to answer because there are lots of great professional memories in the last 24 years. One of my favorite professional memories is taking the Nurturing Fathers Training Program and running a 13-week Nurturing Fathers Program along with my coworker Marc Jeans Jacques where 12 single dads from different ethnic backgrounds participated and graduated from the program.  For 13 weeks, we learned a lot from each other and graduation day was a wonderful moment for all that participated.”

Who do you look up to in the field and what have you learned from them?

“I look up to Judith Liben, Senior Staff Attorney at Mass Law Reform, who has been advocating for clients on a broad range of housing policies, as well as language access in the emergency assistance and housing programs. After attending several trainings at Mass Law Reform, I learned that in order to assist low-income parents and their children in securing permanent affordable housing and navigating complex systems, I have to keep up with ongoing changes in policies and resources available to assist families.”

How have you coped with the challenges of the pandemic?

“I have coped well with the challenges of the pandemic by continuing to house families, biking often, and practicing all safety measures in place to stay safe.”

Thank you to Cristiano and all the other tireless staff helping to provide services to clients and families throughout the pandemic. You are the Commonwealth’s human services heroes!

The Caring Force will be publishing additional workforce spotlights through the pandemic in an effort to raise the voices of workers on the front lines. If you know someone who inspires clients and embodies the spirit of The Caring Force, please nominate them by emailing Ravi Simon at rsimon@providers.org.

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