For Riza, working at the Central YMCA Children’s Center is a natural fit. Born and raised in the Philippines, she taught elementary school in her home country before moving to Spokane in 2010. Once here, Riza was searching for a job where she could continue to connect with kids and help her new community.
She began working at the EWU Children’s Center, which is staffed and managed by the YMCA. “When I applied for the job I saw that it was the YMCA and knew it would be a good place. The Y is known all over the world, it felt like a good decision,” Riza says.
After 6 years working in Cheney, Riza took a position closer to home at the Central YMCA Children’s Center, working as the Lead Toddler Teacher. “Even though they are so tiny, they are amazing! So curious and kind, it makes every day different.” Riza says jokingly “some days those challenges are harder than others, but it’s all worth it.”
“I think this is my calling now, I’m helping them grow…you almost feel like a second parent at times,” Riza says. “No matter where they come from or what their family is like, the Y is helping them, I’m grateful to be a part of that.”
Once the children age out of her classroom, Riza says she is sad to see them go but loves collaborating with staff on how to best help each child. “We work together to build strategies for each kid. What works better for them on an individual level…I’m just trying to do what I can to make them successful,” Riza says.
Now that she has a child of her own, Riza says it’s fun to see the similarities in her kids at work and her daughter, “I’ll come home and she’ll ask me if the kids in my class were good today and I’ll tell her ‘well, sometimes they don’t listen, just like you’ and it’s funny to see them go through the same kind of stages that my daughter did.”
When she’s not working, Riza loves spending time with her daughter and husband. They make many visits to the Y to swim and spend time as a family, take trips around the area or even go for a picnic at the park.