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11/25/2022 12:56 PM

Brittany Eckert: Behind the Scenes and Making it Happen

Brittany Eckert calls herself a “behind-the-scenes person,” but her work with Old Saybrook Youth and Family Services helps put a spotlight on empowering youth. Photo courtesy of Brittany Eckert

In her junior year of college, Brittany Eckert began interning at the Old Saybrook Youth and Family Services department. Now, Brittany still serves the town as the prevention coordinator.

“There’s a lot of moving parts and as corny as it sounds, I really think it’s the best job ever,” Brittany says during a recent conversation with the Harbor News.

As part of her role, Brittany works with the youth in Old Saybrook to empower them to make good choices.

“I work with kids at all ages but I do a lot of focusing on students in the grades five to 12 range in particular,” says Brittany. As one can imagine, Brittany says, “we’re always busy.”

One upcoming project Brittany is working on is the second annual Starlight Festival slated for Saturday, Dec. 3. The event sees the Town Green and Main Street turn into a winter fair with fun for the whole family. It culminates with the lighting of the Hero Tree, a tree that honors military service.

Another upcoming project Brittany is spreading the word about is a survey for parents and caregivers in the community that Brittany says helps inform the department on programming needs and also helps with pursuing certain grants for the department.

“It’s super important to us,” says Brittany. The survey will go live on Dec. 5 and will be available online.

As part of her job, Brittany does tasks like coordinating different programs, both large and small, that foster positive youth engagement.

“I’m more of a behind-the-scenes person. I like trying to make things happen,” Brittany says. “We also spend a lot of time networking. Building these relationships is key. Our partnerships in the community are key.”

“We come together to talk about important community topics and it can be serious but we also have time for a lot of serendipity and fun,” says Brittany.

Brittany has been working within the youth and family services programs since 2011.

“I started working as an intern my junior year of college and I’ve stuck ever since,” says Brittany.

Over the last ten years, Brittany says she’s worked in various roles. In 2020, Brittany began working full-time and says she still enjoys her time in the department.

“I guess I just couldn’t find a way to leave,” she jokes.

At first, Brittany had a different career goal in mind.

“I started in college wanting to be a teacher,” says Brittany.

However, as she got further in her studies Brittany realized she wanted a new career.

“I always wanted to work with people but I’m just not one to sit behind a desk all day,” Brittany adds. Luckily, her current role allows her to interact with overs but doesn’t confine her to a desk.

Having stuck around for so long, it’s fitting then that Brittany struggles to name one single aspect the favorite part of her job.

“It’s hard to pick just one but if I had I’d say the connections. The connections I have with students and community,” says Brittany. “It’s important for people to have someone to come to and be comfortable with as opposed to just another person."

Of course, Brittany says making sure that everyone knows she and the department are available can be a struggle.

“When there is a need and we try and help, it’s hard sometimes getting the enrollment,” Brittany admits. “When you plan and prepare and don’t always get the people signing up, it’s hard,” she says.

Brittany grew up in Old Saybrook and still enjoys spending time in the community.

"I’m so thankful for the community we did have here growing up,” says Brittany.

In her spare time, Brittany can be found spending time outside playing games with her husband, Michael, and their children, Owen and Evan.

“My favorite thing about Old Saybrook is the small close-knit community. Growing up here everyone wanted to get out but I feel like the majority comes back,” says Brittany.