Client Feature: The Crossing of Manitowoc County: A Healthy Family for Every Child

The Crossing Of Manitowoc County A Healthy Family For Every Child Executive Director Q&a Belinda Esquinas

Written by Corenne Gutierrez

March 15, 2024

The Crossing of Manitowoc County strives to provide the education and support parents need to build strong, resilient families. The Christian-based organization provides no-cost services to nearly 300 clients per year. It’s core programming includes one-on-one parenting classes, access to baby supplies, car seats and clothing, and medical services. There are no eligibility requirements, and the organization welcomes parents facing pregnancy in a variety of situations.

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Belinda Esquinas, Executive Director for The Crossing, gave a brief history of the organization. “The Crossing was founded in 2006 and through community support and its generous donors remodeled its current facility in 2022 to improve privacy and efficiency for clients and volunteers.”

The Crossing’s Earn While You Learn program provides parents, both men and women, education and coaching on topics such as prenatal development, infant health, parenting techniques and life skills. Volunteers walk clients through video-based courses and meet with them regularly to provide the support needed. Program participants earn “dollars” that can be redeemed for baby supplies and clothing from the organization’s Boutique and Pantry. Through this program, clients may also receive referrals and resources for housing, financial assistance, support for domestic violence, adoption, spiritual growth, and employment.

Esquinas remarked that the Babies Ride Safe program provides convertible car seats that grow with the child from four to 65 pounds.

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The medical clinic at The Crossing performs free obstetrical ultrasound exams, including 3 and 4D Ultrasounds. Additionally, pregnancy testing/treatment, STI/STD testing/treatment, adoption referrals and after abortion healing care are provided free of charge. In the coming year, The Crossing will implement new, add-on services such as perinatal support and hospice for difficult pregnancies.

Learn more about The Crossing online.


Executive Director Q&A: Belinda EsquinasBelinda Esquinas

Belinda Esquinas is the executive director for The Crossing. Belinda Esquinas is a native of Spain, where her entire family still lives. After finishing her bachelor’s degree in education, she moved to the United States to learn English and continue her education in Missions and Biblical Studies. In May 2014, Belinda began working at The Crossing of Manitowoc County, and she was promoted to the position of executive director in 2018. Belinda’s leadership style focuses on serving others and creating a culture of empowerment and opportunity for everyone around her. Belinda is also a board member of LTC, Manitowoc Noon Rotary, and Pickleball Connection Club. Her hobbies include fitness, good food, leadership development, and spending time with her husband and family, which often involves traveling.

What are some things you know now that you wish you knew when you first started as a nonprofit leader?

I have learned that trusting my intuition is important as it is usually right. However, it took me some time to realize this. Looking back, I wish I had understood the significance of making timely decisions, specifically when it comes to holding the team accountable and not being afraid of having difficult conversations.

What has been your biggest source of pride as executive director?

As an executive director, I take pride in helping others grow. It brings me immense happiness to witness the volunteers and staff finding their niche within the work we do and thrive with meaning and purpose while serving our clients. I am also proud of the compounded effect of many people that has led to the growth of our organization. The board members, staff and volunteers have played a pivotal role in the growth and success of The Crossing.

What are your three biggest accomplishments in your career as a nonprofit leader?

For me, creating and maintaining a positive and flourishing work environment is of utmost importance. It is crucial to prioritize the safety and satisfaction of our clients, as well as providing exceptional service. Equally significant is ensuring the welfare of our team members, recognizing their value, and understanding that their happiness and success are integral to achieving our overall mission.

Securing the funds, planning and executing the remodel, and moving into our new building have been milestones for The Crossing, and I’m very proud of them.

What are the dominant challenges that you see nonprofit organizations facing and what do you think would be viable solutions?

One of the major challenges faced by non-profit organizations is attracting and retaining talented staff. Salaries in the nonprofit sector are generally lower than in for-profit organizations, which makes it difficult to offer competitive compensation packages. As nonprofit leaders, we must strike a balance between paying a livable wage and recognizing the value of skills, accomplishments, and overhead costs. Nonprofits are working to solve complex problems in our communities, and we need top-tier employees to achieve our goals. I particularly like Dan Pallota’s quote that says, “Our generation does not want its epitaph to read, ‘We kept charity overhead low.’ We want it to read that we changed the world.”

I believe diversifying our revenue streams and educating our donors is crucial in making progress on this issue.

What aspects of nonprofit accounting do you find most challenging?

I am not an accountant, so there are many aspects of nonprofit accounting that I find challenging. Thus, I heavily rely on the expertise of professionals in the field. Effective communication and trust are crucial in such a scenario. The team at Hawkins Ash has been fantastic in all regards.

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Corenne Gutierrez
I joined Hawkins Ash CPAs in 2011. As the Firm's marketing manager, I develop and deploy strategic marketing and communications plans to fulfill the marketing goals of the Firm as a whole, each office and business line.

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