Staff Profile: Alberto Munoz, Front Desk Services Coordinator
When clients, volunteers and donors come to New Circles, the first face they see is often Alberto Munoz. Alberto manages the busy front desk, providing frontline reception services to New Circles’ diverse community members. Funded through the Ontario Trillium Foundation, with support from a private donor, this new position plays a pivotal role in delivering high-quality service to our clients.
Communications Coordinator Andrea McGavin sat down with Alberto to chat with him about his job at New Circles and his background in community service work.
Can you tell me about your professional background before New Circles?
I had a variety of experiences with different agencies and non-profits. When I first came to Canada, I worked in the Newcomer Information Centre at the YMCA, which was a great experience because I was also a newcomer myself at the time and that helped me identify more with the community. I also worked with LAMP Community Health Centre in Etobicoke, where I was involved with a large study to determine community needs around recreation, housing, education and so forth, especially in regards to seniors and youth. Although it was only a six-month contract and I did not get to see the end of the project, it was a very interesting experience. I also worked in Regent Park with individuals facing isolation, mental health issues, and addiction. I completed my community services worker diploma in 2014 through George Brown College, and during my studies, I did a two-month work placement in Cuba, where I worked at a factory and on an organic farm, as well as with the Cuban Women’s Association and local LGBT groups on a sexual health education program.
You mentioned you were a newcomer yourself when you worked at the YMCA. Where did you come to Canada from?
I came to Canada in 2004 from Colombia. It had always been a dream of mine to visit Canada since I was a teenager. I originally came to study English and I decided to stay. I still visit Colombia every two or three years.
How long have you been working with New Circles?
I’ve been with New Circles for three months now.
What interested you in the Front Desk Services Coordinator position?
When I read the job posting, I felt I fit the profile really well, given my skills and experience. I thought, I can give a lot to this agency. When I applied, I read the website and annual reports and I found everything very interesting.
The job was not only a good fit with my experience and skills, but also with what I like to do – working with communities in a multicultural environment.
Can you tell me about a “typical” day as Front Desk Services Coordinator?
Basically, every day is different! I assist clients with registration, make sure they have the correct information to register, refer them to other programs and services, and schedule all the GLOW shopping appointments. I spend a lot of time on the phone, calling clients to confirm appointments, speaking with other agencies about our programs, managing referrals, and answering inquiries. I also train and support student placements and other volunteers who provide reception assistance. An important aspect of my job is tracking client stats, so we have an accurate picture of how many clients the agency is serving. I’m also responsible for ordering office supplies and ensuring the office is well stocked.
What was your first impression of New Circles?
When I first came to New Circles, it was so busy at the front desk! My first impression was that it was a small agency, but once I started working here, I learned that New Circles really is “small but mighty.”
What is your favourite thing about working here?
I really like the staff here. We’re kind of like a second family. I feel really comfortable here.
What has been the most surprising or challenging aspect of your job?
Even though I had similar jobs previously, I had never worked in a clothing bank, so I had to learn about how this particular type of service works. It’s been a really good process for me, and I’ve learned a lot.
My position is very busy and I don’t like leaving tasks unfinished, so my biggest challenge is setting priorities, but I think so far I’m doing a good job!
What unique thing do you bring to your job?
When I was a child, I learned from my father to always emphasize organization. Everything should be in its right place. My organizational skills really help with this job, and with setting priorities without neglecting any of my other responsibilities.
That’s something I use from my life here. Also, I’m kind of shy, but also easy-going, even if I’m a little reserved. I always try to use that easy-going nature with staff, volunteers and clients. I’m a calm person, I can’t even remember the last time I lost my temper – maybe many years ago!
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
One thing I really like is watching movies. I prefer historical films and thrillers, as well as the occasional drama. My favourite movie is actually three movies – The Godfather Trilogy. I watch it at least three or four times a year. I also like to walk every day. I have a speedometer on my phone and I try to do at least 6,000 steps or 80 minutes of walking a day. During the summer, though, sometimes I walk for three or four hours at a time, especially on weekends when I have the time. I prefer to walk in quiet places that aren’t too crowded, and I used like walking in the mountains in Colombia.