Our Workforce Wednesday series highlights cast members behind the Disneyland Resort community workforce development initiative and its positive impact on the local community. This month, we’re featuring some of our Disney VoluntEARS working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire.
This workplace mentoring program creates three-year relationships between cast and students at Katella High School in Anaheim, Calif., from their sophomore through senior years, building positive connections and providing guidance for future careers. Here are a few of our “Big” cast members and their “Littles” who started programs in fall 2021.
Alexa, a Project Manager on the Cast Experience team, is mentoring her Little, Camila. “When we first met, [I thought she] was my clone from when I was in 10th grade,” said Alexa. “I’m so impressed with her maturity … and [her] caring and compassionate personality.”
“Alexa is there to talk to when I need advice … and it’s nice to know that someone is keeping up [with me] and generally interested in me,” said Camila. “She helped me figure out what I want to do in the future … and it sprouted a whole other seed [of ideas].”
Alexa and Camila are finding they share many similarities. “We share a passion for the arts, where I’m very visual, and Camila loves the performing arts,” said Alexa.
“That creativity is a common core for us,” Camila added, “knowing that we have things in common shows a connection between generations.”
“It’s been really special so far,” said Alexa. “It’s just the beginning [of our relationship], and I’m really excited to watch her grow.”
Emily, an Event Operations Program Manager for Live Entertainment, is mentoring her Little, Krystal. Emily’s passion for mentorship stemmed from the lack of direction she received as a child. “If I had a mentor [when I was Krystal’s age], it would have helped me become more comfortable and confident with what I wanted to do,” said Emily. “It’s important that I am that person for someone else.”
“I really wanted a mentor because I’m the oldest in my family, and I don’t have anyone to go to [for guidance],” said Krystal. “I took this opportunity and Emily is guiding me in the right direction.”
Cast members joining the mentoring program undergo an extensive interview and matching process to find the best Big and Little pairing. “When they matched Krystal and me, it was really amazing because we have so much in common,” said Emily.
“We relate so well because of our similar upbringings, backgrounds and cultures,” said Krystal. “We have a lot of similarities, but we are also different … and Emily has never forced me out of my comfort zone, and I appreciate that.”
Emily and Krystal are excited to continue building their relationship. “I’ve always wanted to have a big sister, little sister relationship … and I really feel like Krystal’s big sister,” said Emily.
“Having an opportunity to become friends with someone that is my mentor was an opportunity that I was looking for, but couldn’t put into words,” said Krystal.
Pablo, who works in Marketing and Relationship Development for Partners Federal Credit Union, mentors his Little, Hugo.
“What drew me to this program was … when I met all of the seniors that were graduating in the last [program], and I saw that they genuinely built [lifelong] relationships with their Bigs,” said Pablo.
Hugo joined the program looking for more guidance and finds that in Pablo. “I enjoy [this program] because you can meet someone that might have grown up similar to you or totally different and it’s like having another friend,” said Hugo.
Pablo and Hugo have built a special bond and can already see the impact this program has on their relationship. “When I first met Hugo, I could tell he was really quiet, and I’m not … so it’s a great pairing because we can teach each other something about the other person,” said Pablo. “I love being able to learn about him little by little … and I ask [about him] because I care.”
“My favorite part of this relationship with Pablo is talking with him about my family,” said Hugo. “He’s really interested in what I do and my life.”
Keep following Disney Cast Life as we continue sharing stories each month of Disney VoluntEARS supporting different aspects of the initiative, painting the larger inspiring picture of the Disneyland Resort community workforce development effort.