After 12 years as the executive director of the Blue Earth Area Mentors (BEAM), Mary Lucas has decided to relinquish the position.
The BEAM board of directors announced this week that they have hired Katy Gonzalez, of rural Elmore, for the position.
Lucas's last day on the job was March 13, but she came back into the office this past week for two days to help train Gonzalez.
Katy Gonzalez, left, is the new executive
director of the Blue Earth Area Mentors (BEAM) group. She is pictured holding the BEAM sign with outgoing director Mary Lucas in the BEAM office.
"I really had a good time at this job," she says. "I so enjoyed meeting a lot of people, and helping to make a difference in the lives of kids. It is all about the kids."
Lucas says she feels that Blue Earth is a great community because of their support for BEAM.
"We get so little grant money anymore," she says. "But the community members, churches and organizations are so good to donate to us and keep this program going."
Gonzalez says she is excited to start working with the BEAM mentors and mentees, but says she feels she has big shoes to fill.
"Mary has done a great job here," she says. "I really appreciate all she has done for these kids and this program."
Gonzalez and Lucas are not strangers. Lucas, a teacher, once taught with Gonzalez's parents in Granada.
"That is where I am from," the new BEAM director says. ""Now I live with my husband, Andy, south of Elmore. We have an odd assortment of animals living with us, like a cow named Bucky, four horses, three cats, a dog and a peacock."
Just like Lucas, Gonzalez is a teacher herself.
"I teach ESL (English as a second language) to adults out of the Blue Earth Elementary School," she says. "It is through Adult Basic Education and Community Ed."
Her job at the school is part time and so is the new position with BEAM. So, she is going to be able to do both, combining them into one full time schedule.
"I am really excited about this," she says. "I saw it advertised and asked Mona (Eustice, teacher and president of the BEAM board of directors) and she encouraged me to apply."
Twelve years ago a similar thing happened to Lucas.
"I was teaching and my position was being phased out," Lucas says. "I accidentally bumped into Tami Armstrong. She was teaching and was the BEAM director and her job at the school was increasing, so she was resigning from BEAM."
Lucas applied and was hired.
Now she says she plans on spending more time at home and also will explore other job opportunities.
As for Gonzalez, she says she is happy to be starting work with a group that does so much for kids who need it and has such wonderful community support.
"I feel this job is perfect for me," she says. "Can't wait to get started."