Parent to Professional: Belkis

Belkis Sanchez moved from the Dominican Republic to Lynn in hopes of settling in, saving money, and sending for her 6 month old daughter Betsy. As a single parent, she took a sales job and started earning money, but once reunited with her baby, she needed childcare to continue working. Sitters were costing her hundreds of dollars a week; money in, money out. There were times her savings was so depleted they were near homelessness.

Belkis learned about LEO from a neighbor, and that conversation would plot her journey to success. At first, LEO was just a nurturing place where she could leave her child while she worked. As time went on, the LEO staff observed Belkis interacting with her own child and as a parent volunteer, and they saw potential in her.

She began with LEO as an assistant teacher, then a teacher, then a family case worker. She received her Associate’s Degree from North Shore Community College and her Bachelor’s Degree from Merrimack College. As her career grew, so did her family. Belkis is proud mother to three exceptional children: daughter Betsy is a graduate of Suffolk University; son Jose is a graduate of Bentley College; and her youngest daughter Crisbeth is a graduate of Lynn Technical/Vocational School.

Belkis has also seen her share of despair in her time with LEO; nothing more devastating than the loss of her ten-month-old daughter, Destiney. Born with a heart defect, Destiney spent most of her life at Children’s Hospital, Boston. After two open heart surgeries, and many other invasive procedures, Destiney’s small body surrendered. Belkis credits LEO for helping her regain focus. Belkis shared, “I was going crazy at home. I would walk and pass my house, drive and miss my exit. I called my director two weeks after my daughter passed, and asked to come back. Work saved me.”

Recently promoted to the role of Community Engagement Specialist, Belkis now guides families who will hopefully follow in her shoes. “LEO is my family. I want to do for them what they did for me.” And that, for LEO, is what it is all about.

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