Imagine growing up in a town so small that every person knows each other by name. Natalie Nemanic didn’t have to imagine it—for her, it was a reality. The Council for Economic Opportunities’ Home Base Coordinator for Head Start was adamant about making sure her city wasn’t confused with any other city in America.
“I am originally from Cortland, Ohio – and that’s with a ‘C,’ not Portland,” she laughed. ” It’s in the Youngstown-Warren area. But fun fact: when I left for college, our town got its first restaurant with alcohol.”
Nemanic grew up knowing that she wanted to help people. At home, she was commonly referred to as bossy because she would play pretend school and always want to be the teacher. “I always knew I wanted to work with children and families one way or another,” she said. “As I got older I wasn’t so sure teaching was the best way to accomplish that goal, so I chose a major that would best suit that vision.”
Nemanic decided to major in Family and Child Development, receiving her bachelors from the University of Akron. As she continued through college she took extra credits to receive a certificate that enabled her to specialize in parent education and children with incarcerated parents.
“After I chose my major and received my certifications, I had to do an internship, so I chose Project Rise, a program that works with Akron Public Schools,” she said. “This was by far the most overwhelmingly rewarding experience of my entire life. Every day was a mixture of emotions. Were the kids I tutored going to be safe tonight? Will the mom I saw at the women’s shelter for domestic abuse go back to her abuser? Or how this little baby finally let me hug them after months of trying to break through with constant communication and love. This was my daily reality.”
These experiences ultimately brought Nemanic to CEOGC.
After college, she moved to Cleveland with her then-boyfriend (now husband) and found a position at a daycare in Lakewood, OH. “I loved working at the daycare but I knew I needed to do something different; something more impactful,” she said. “I began researching organizations in Cleveland that offered services to low-income families. That’s when I found CEOGC.”
Turns out the opportunity to work with the council was exactly what she was looking for. She started as a Home Base Visitor, a program that was relatively new at the time. Now six years later, she’s the Home Base Program Coordinator. “Every day I try to remember why I started doing what I’m doing—the lives I dreamed of impacting. The agency gives me a platform to do just that.”
When Nemanic isn’t helping others out she’s spending time with Cole, her husband of three years, and their fur babies—animals that are currently taking place of future children. “We currently have a slew of pets, but no children just yet,” she said. “We do pray we are blessed with children very soon!”
For now, Nemanic really enjoys spending time with her two-year-old nephew or at Progressive Field during baseball season with her husband. “Baseball is our favorite pastime, but my favorite thing to do by far is refurbishing old furniture; I love seeing the end result of all my hard work.”
Whether it’s helping others or hanging with family, Nemanic is always dreaming of how she can impact the world. When asked about her ultimate profession, she talked about creating her own organization. “If I could do anything with no limitations I would start my own organization to assist homeless families in the community and probably start an animal shelter, too!” she said with a smile. “Maybe the animal shelter wouldn’t be a great idea though; I’d never let them get adopted.”
Dessert: Anything Chocolate!
Favorite Disney movie: Little Mermaid
Stay tuned for more from our monthly CEOGC Staff Spotlight feature series.