Won’t you be my neighbor?

The BCC Compass – Nov 2023


One of my favorite theologians is Rev. Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” An ordained Presbyterian Minister, the impact of his teachings has crossed many generations.

I recently shared one of his quotes with a group of our senior leaders during our centering moment:

“It’s no secret that I like to get to know people–and not just the outside stuff of their lives. I like to try to understand the meaning of who people are and what they’re saying to me.”

As I offered a reflection, I mentioned that it takes time and intention to get to know your neighbor. If we really want to know who our neighbor is, we must be intentional with the methods to get to know them. Approaching with an open mind, rather than a bias or prejudgment, is an ideal way to meet with your neighbor.

During this same meeting, Ruth Wong De Balderas and Sharnett Kelly, leaders in our Baltimore Caminos Program, shared their experience of a cultural immersion trip with the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church to the Mexico and California border. The group traveled to the area where those seeking asylum were detained, then released. The purpose of this trip was to invite people to experience what the migrants to this country have experienced. The group was able to interact with other organizations providing services to the migrant community.

One of our core values at BCC is empathy. Empathy is allowing yourself to experience what others may be going through, and through empathy we can develop compassion. Sharnett and Ruth both expressed the importance of understanding and experiencing what the kids they care for have gone through. It allows them to be better caretakers and gives them a deeper understanding of how to provide for these children.

Our BCC neighborhood encourages others to get to know their neighbors. When we know who our neighbors are, it makes it less difficult for us to care for and understand them. Many conflicts and animosity can be avoided if we get the chance to know our neighbor.
Immigration is a hot button topic and people have passionate opinions on both sides of the issue. One of the stories that I like to share is about one of my military colleagues who was present during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. As the planes filled up, commanders noticed that children were being left with Soldiers or being tossed over the walls in desperation. Leadership said “Chaplain, we need an orphanage.” The chaplains present there established an orphanage where they ensured the safety of the children. She cataloged more than 300 kids, and they all were flown back to the states. She did not know what happened to those children after they left Afghanistan.

A year later, I met with her and she told me that story. I looked at her and told her that some of those kids ended up at the Board of Child Care and they were safe and being loved here in the United States. It brought a sense of relief and closure to her.

Stop and get to know your neighbor’s story. You never know who might be in the neighborhood.


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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What Exactly Is A Chaplain?

The BCC Compass – Oct 2023


Chaplains are present in many intuitions such as Tysons Food, the US Military, Congress, hospitals, colleges, and the Board of Child Care. But what exactly is a chaplain? Some might think that they are not religious and there is no need for a chaplain. After all, there is a separation of church and state, right? Let us explore a few things:

Chaplain vs Pastor/Clergy

Chaplains are representatives of their faith traditions: Christians (of different denominations), Islam, Jewish, Humanists, Buddhists etc. who have received specialized training to minister in a pluralistic environment. Many chaplains are clergy people (pastors, priests, rabbis, imams) but – at their ministry setting – they are chaplains because they are available to all people and provide care to all regardless of faith or no faith tradition. Chaplains understand what it means to serve in a pluralistic setting.

Why does BCC and other institutions (including secular ones) have a chaplain?

Chaplains care for people, offer pastoral care, and provide religious services such as ordinances and sacraments. However, chaplains also have another unique role. They advise on topics such as religious freedom/accommodation, ethics, and morality.

With BCC’s history with Methodism, having the spiritual caretaker on staff is part of our heritage. Spiritual care is a broad perspective, not just of religion, but being spiritually ready to face whatever the next hurdle may be.  At BCC, we also see this role as a tool for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion. The chaplain helps, along with the EDI committee, to ensure that practices, policies, celebrations within the organization possess an EDI perspective and celebrate people as they have been created. Along with that, the promotion of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness is part of the culture we would like to embrace at BCC.

Chaplaincy is evolving, as the world is evolving, but the thing that remains consistent is that spiritual care and readiness, a sense of purpose, is important in maintaining a healthy individual. At BCC, the chaplain is used in many ways but the focus is still to care for our talent and caregivers and to ensure that there are avenues for EDI initiatives, to help change our communities through the family called the Board of Child Care.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Growth

The BCC Compass – September 2023


Nelson Mandela once said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Education—be it a college degree, vocational school, or learning a trade—can drastically change a person’s position and situation. Education can open doors and windows to opportunities that otherwise might not be available to an individual.

Unfortunately, a higher education can be costly, and many come from a place where it might not be feasible to attend pay for it. Those driven try to find ways to pay for it. Some are able to secure scholarships to fill in financial gaps. Others join the military and take advantage of the education benefits they get from their service. A majority end up in debt through loans.

At BCC, we see the need to make education more accessible for others. Not everyone has the ability to secure scholarships, join the military, or have had parents set aside money for a college fund.

As such, it has been part of our ethos to develop our talent and promote growth, both professionally and personally. We are able to do that through our college tuition assistance program where we provide members of our staff with $5,000 a year to help pay for a degree or certification. Though not everyone uses the benefit, those who do are able to attain something that they otherwise might not be able.

Let’s face it: there are careers that require degrees and training. On-the-job and life experiences are invaluable, but industry standards also dictate the requirements needed for various career fields. BCC hopes to bridge the gap between our staff’s talents and their opportunities for growth. That is equity.

As we move toward the future, we plan on highlighting the benefits we provide to our talents in order for them to be successful. The tuition reimbursement program is one of the best practices currently in place to retain, train, and invest in our people. We hope to highlight our talents who have used it and celebrate their achievements. Graduation party anyone?


Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore

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Imua: Move Forward Towards New Beginnings

The BCC Compass – August 2023


August doesn’t signify the start of a new calendar year, but it has always felt like a time of new beginnings for me.

For some, August means returning to reality after a summer vacation. For students and teachers, it means kicking off a new school year. For all, the promise of crisp, cooler temperatures is in the air as we prepare to wel come autumn.

We are moving towards a time of change, which can often be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

This past June at our Strawbridge School commencement ceremony, I talked about the idea of “Imua” in Hawaiian culture, my personal heritage. Imua means “to move forward” or “to move ahead” towards a goal. I am sharing this message with our wider community as we all collectively dive into a new season of life, whatever that may look like for each of us. This may be a time of challenges, celebrations, adventures, or peace — no matter what, I encourage you to take this idea of Imua with you. Move forward through the change, working towards the goals you have in place for yourself.

So what does Imua mean?  The term was made famous by King Kamehemaha I, the ali’i (king) who unified the Hawaiian islands. Before battle, Kamehameha would rally and call out to his warriors. He would say, Imua e nā poki‘i a inu i ka wai ‘awa‘awa, ‘a‘ohe hope e ho‘i mai ai.” This translates to: “Forward my young brothers and drink of the bitter waters, there is no turning back.”

When I think of Imua and how to take steps forward in times of change, I am often reminded of this quote from U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven.

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter… And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

The little things in life can make the biggest difference and the most impact. Keep doing those little things that bring joy and purpose, even if it’s just making your bed. It will give you the confidence you need to go forward through life as change and new beginnings come your way.

I wish you Imua and a wonderful start to this new season.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore

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Juneteenth 2022 vs. 2023: A Learning Experience

The BCC Compass – July 2023


The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. A practice we have here at BCC is to learn from what we have done in the past and adapt it to our current practices, realizing that there is not just one way to complete a task.

In June we had celebrated Juneteenth across the majority of our organization and it was deemed a “great success.” We learned and integrated best practices from the event last year.

Here is an excerpt from the Compass blog written by our CEO, LA Spangnola wrote last year:

“At BCC, we set a goal to improve our celebration and understanding of Juneteenth. In 2021, just days before the federal government approved Juneteenth as a federal holiday, BCC put together its first Juneteenth celebration. Staff members who worked that day received double pay, and we organized meals at several BCC campuses. But we quickly realized we didn’t include enough staff in the planning for the day. This year, we reached out to more staff members and received more feedback on how to celebrate Juneteenth in a way that was truly meaningful. We also added more educational opportunities about the holiday so staff throughout BCC could gain a deeper understanding of the day’s meaning.”

Here are the ways that we implemented the lessons learned from last year:

1. Each campus (PA, WV, and MD) had a planning team that consulted other staff and each other in planning

2. Menu was planned accordingly to cultural celebration and appropriate decoration were used

3. Appropriated funding and support was allocated by the EDI committee

4. Educational materials, such as bulletin boards and handouts about Junteenth were given away at the celebrations

Even with the “great success” we still have an opportunity to learn and grow as we plan for next year. The big realization is the need to be intentionally inclusive of all our campuses and also include them in the planning and execution of our celebration. With this in mind, we endeavor to:

  • Assign an EDI outreach person to each campus to ensure that all BCC locations are included in the celebration conversation.
  • Create and print out more educational materials to be distributed to the campuses.

With every EDI led initiative and celebration, there is room to learn, engage, and improve. That is the great thing about this work: we are always learning and growing together!

Moving forward, especially as we prepare for our agency-wide Hispanic Heritage Celebration, we will keep in mind the lessons learned from our past events to help us share with the world the richness of the people at the Board of Child Care.

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Fostering Inclusion and Empowerment: Embracing Queer Youth by Supporting Queer Employees

The BCC Compass – June 2023


We hold a significant responsibility to ensure the well-being of all our youth, and this includes those who identify as members of the –queer community. Queer describes sexual and gender identities other than straight and cisgender. Queer is sometimes used to express that sexuality and gender can be complicated, change over time, and might not fit neatly into either/or identities, like male or female, gay or straight. Creating a supportive and inclusive environment for queer youth extends beyond direct care – it includes fostering a workplace culture that supports and empowers queer employees and creating positive relationships and role models for marginalized youth.

To effectively serve marginalized communities, BCC strives to understand the intricacies and complexities of marginalization. To do this important work, we rely heavily on the efforts of our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) Committee. Our EDI Committee is an organization-wide committee of employees that work together to advocate for marginalized groups in our workforce. Through the work of the EDI Committee, we encourage employees to share their experiences, concerns, and ideas related to marginalized inclusion.

Creating a safe environment of open dialogue and communication is essential in supporting queer employees.

By actively listening to and addressing this feedback, BCC can ensure that the voices of queer employees are heard, and necessary improvements are made. Through this feedback, we have launched many initiatives that benefit the queer community, such as the expansion of employee benefits to include unmarried life partners. These modifications will help our employees with the stressors outside of work, and in turn create a more positive milieu for our employees.

Encouraging the visibility of queer employees is also integral to the support of queer youth. For any marginalized community, visibility challenges narrow societal expectations and demonstrates the richness and diversity within the group, dismantling harmful assumptions and misconceptions while promoting a more accurate understanding of their experiences, struggles, and contributions. This is especially critical to the youth we serve, many of whom come from environments barren of acceptance and understanding. In addition to the emotional benefits for the employee, visibility of our queer employees helps to show our queer youth that both support and success are attainable; it allows youth to see a bit of themselves in employees and serves to strengthen their positive relationships and, ultimately, their own personal identity.

To cultivate a workplace of understanding and visibility, BCC strives to foster an inclusive culture that embraces diversity, aims for cultural competency, and respects the identities of all employees, including but not limited to:

  • Comprehensive non-discrimination policies that explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Inclusivity and diversity training for new employees.
  • Conversation-style educational seminars for current employees and teams.
  • Equal opportunity for career advancement and professional development.
  • Gender-affirming healthcare coverage.
  • Inclusive parental leave policies for same-sex couples.

As we grow in the regions we serve and as our employees become more and more diverse, BCC is always mindful of setting LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and benefits to support the well-being of queer employees. By addressing these specific needs, we honor our commitment to supporting queer employees, creating an inclusive workplace, and acknowledge that these offerings are integral for employee safety.

Cole Welsh (they/them)
EDI Committee Vice-Chair
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Go For Broke

The BCC Compass – May 2023


The 100th Battalion, 442nd Regiment is the most highly decorated unit in the US Army. They have the most Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, etc. recipients than any other unit in the US Army. Here is the kicker—they were made up of all Japanese American Soldiers or Nisei. They were segregated from the rest of the Army because of their race and because of the fear that filled the country after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan. Yet, they all felt the need and call to serve their country.

The 100th Battalion motto is “Go For Broke” a Hawaiian pidgin slogan meaning “do your best” or “Go for it!” Despite the negative national sentiment towards Japanese Americans during that time, they were determined to “Go for Broke.”

Asian American and Pacific Islander Month recognizes and celebrates and increases awareness of the rich history, contributions, and accomplishments of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans and the members of the 100th Battalion are part of this history.

Nicole Smith, Executive Director of Maryland and DC Programs, is a proud Asian American who began her career as a Youth Care Professional at BCC 23 years ago!

Our CEO, Laurie Anne “LA” Spagnola wrote in her latest all-staff message:

“Recently, Nicole reported to the Equity Diversity and Inclusion committee about her efforts to bring awareness and equity to Maryland’s Social Work licensing exam.

The results of the exam support disparate passing rates for black and brown social workers. Nicole worked with a group of people to challenge the inequity of the exam and advocated for a bill that is now law. The new law will develop a process that examines the data and the exam, pauses some parts of the Maryland Social Work exam process, and informs a more just process for all social workers.”


“Go For Broke!” is definitely not limited to our AAPI community:

Our Caminos Team, to include Kelly Berger, Michael Lynch, Emily Claure, Jordan Jones, and SharnettKelly presented a training session at the United Methodist Association Conference and brought forth the positive impact that the program has had on many youth and families across the nation.

Our Caminos program serves and cares for recently migrated youth from all over the world and they have been engaging with other children’s service organizations to help service this population. The Caminos Teams shared their expertise, stories, passion, and learning experience with a group of colleagues setting the bar of care for these vulnerable kids. GO FOR BROKE, Caminos Team!

How can you embody the spirit of the 100th Battalion and what are your “Go For Broke” moments? What could be keeping you from moving forward in the spirit of “doing your best”? Are there members of the AAPI community in your life and how have they made an impact on you? What positive ways could you engage with the AAPI community and hear their stories?

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Lessons from the Watering Hole: Celebrate Diversity

The BCC Compass – April 2023


A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to go on safari in South Africa. I was in awe of the beauty of the sub-Saharan terrain and the wonders of all the pack animals wandering the plains.  I was also able to see most of the big five game animals: lions, hippos, elephants, etc. But what I found the most fascinating was the watering hole. There I was able to see all kinds of animals—both predator and prey—gather to quench their thirst.  Zebras, hippos, antelopes, warthog, and other species of animals were gathered to have a drink.

What can we learn from this? We see different species of animals gathered for a drink at the same spot and yet as humans it can be difficult to say “hello” or get to know someone who might not look like us.

In the United States, desegregation was less than a century ago—yet we are the same species!

Since 2004, April has been a month designated to celebrate and honor the diversity in the world around us.

It is a time where we can intentionally appreciate our similarities and differences. It is a time to understand and recognize our differences and honor the essence of humanity. This month we aim to foster a deeper understanding of others, regardless of who they are or how they live. We encourage a deeper understanding of others through conversation and sharing.

Diversity is crucial.

Diversity helps us become better people because it increases our understanding of human nature, and it keeps us open to the fact that the world does not revolve around just one set of beliefs.

At BCC, we embrace diversity, and it is important for us to include different perspectives and ideas when making decisions and during everyday operations. Leadership understands that doing this will not only help us overall but can help nurture employees to develop strong interpersonal skills. Engaging with facets of other cultures, perspectives, and lifestyles can help us understand how the world works.

The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee helps ensure that we look through a diverse lens so that we are able to open up our horizons. The EDI committee intentionally highlights our diverse workforce by helping our campuses celebrate different cultures, and they also bring a new lens when it comes to our policies and procedures to ensure that they encompass the diverse needs of our staff.

Diversity makes us stronger.

It is natural for humans to fear what we don’t know. I believe that if we continue to learn more about each other and appreciate each other, we can solve a lot of problems. Let us continue to celebrate our diversity and strive to build a world that builds longer tables to share a drink, not higher walls to keep the unfamiliar out.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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Women’s HERstory

The BCC Compass – March 2023


A few years ago, I had the opportunity to be with a group of youth for a retreat. One of the leaders thought it would be a good idea to do some push-ups to wake the kids up a little from their 9 AM wake-up call. Being in the Army, I had the personal experience to concur that push-ups can be better than coffee…sometimes.

As the group moved to the front-leaning rest position, the youth leader called out, “Hey, it’s okay if you need to drop to your knees and do ‘girl’ push-ups. There is no shame in that…” In about half a second, I jumped to my feet and corrected the leader. “They are called ‘modified’ push-ups, as I’m sure push-ups are not gender specific.” He smirked and said, “well, they are called ‘girl’ push-ups here.”

As I looked at the group of boys and girls, I moved up to where the leader was, dropped to the floor, and knocked out five one-handed push-ups. As I completed the last one, I looked him in the eyes and told him, “Those are girl push-ups.” I was feeling all kinds of emotions: disappointment, anger, sadness—and a little shoulder pain from the push-ups. But as a society, we need to continue to speak power into our young people and help them realize that gender is not a limitation to what we can or cannot do.

Women’s History Month serves to lift up all the amazing things that women have contributed to society and highlights the struggles women continue to encounter.

We celebrate the countless women who have fought tirelessly and courageously for equality, justice, and opportunity. It is hard to believe that it was only in 1974 that women won the legal right to open a checking account or take out a line of credit without her husband’s signature. Slowly, the great trailblazers continue to dismantle the walls of inequality and the mantle is passed to us today.

The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said,

Whatever you choose to do, leave tracks. That means don’t do it just for yourself. You will want to leave the world a little better for your having lived.”

I am grateful for the women who have paved the way for the women of today.

Our CEO, Laurie Anne (LA) Spagnola is our first female CEO in the agency’s nearly 150-year history. From our Board of Directors (54% female) to our executive and senior leaders (76% women in leadership) to our administrative team, clinicians, support staff, teachers, and direct care staff, every corner and every campus have the impact of women enriching communities, one family at a time.

Rev. Amor Del Rosario
Director of Spiritual Life, BCC Baltimore
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Celebrating Black History Month

The BCC Compass – February 2023

As we are in the cusp of Black History Month, I am once again in awe of the amazing attributes that the Black community has given to our society and my heart aches for the walls and injustices that were put in the way. It reminds me that we must continue to make choices that aid in breaking down those walls and to continue to listen and tell the stories of the past and support members of the community.

Some of you might have watched movies depicting stories you might not have heard of before. A few years ago, I watched “Hidden Figures” and was amazed about the impact that African-American women had on the NASA space program. And at the same time, I was disheartened that I did not learn about these stories in school nor was it common knowledge.

Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen, first African American Marine Corps aviator, Vietnam War Vet, and first African American Marine General Officer once shared his story with me about returning back to the Naval Air Base in Pensacola Florida from fighting in Vietnam, only to be told he had to sit in the back of the bus.

During a trip to South Africa, I had met Themba, who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela because of his fight against the apartheid government. Yet, so many years later he spoke of forgiveness and reconciliation as a tool to heal what was done wrong to him.

So many of these stories resonate with the thread of perseverance and the desire to achieve, despite the circumstances that surrounded them.

We continue to hear stories of those who rise above their circumstances, and we should remember and embrace these lived experiences. They are to be celebrated.

Our challenge is not to settle.

Our challenge is to continue to be disturbed by the current strifes and circumstances facing the Black community or any community that has been marginalized. Continue to support the community with our presence, gifts, and voice. Be prepared to have an open heart and mind to listen and accept.

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