Annamaria Perruccio…Vaughan lawyer move in leaps and bounds

By Marisa Iacobucci

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  Photo by Guilio Muratori

Photo by Guilio Muratori

While most unsuspecting little girls can easily succumb to fairytale dreams of becoming princesses, Family Law lawyer Annamaria Perruccio, 29, was far too busy for tiaras. 

She heeded, instead, to her future call of litigation. “As a child, I would defend my younger sisters whenever they got into trouble or were being scolded by my parents. I distinctly remember a time when I was arguing contributory negligence on behalf of my sister and was insisting that it wasn’t her fault that she had broken the lamp in my family room. Instead, it was my parents’ fault for placing the lamp too close to the edge of the table,” recalls Perruccio, whose family lovingly nicknamed her “the little lawyer with backwards shoes” because of her childhood habit of wearing her shoes backwards. 

Perruccio, who grew up in Vaughan and now works for Sutherland Law in Vaughan, was always interested in law and languages. She pursued an undergraduate degree in Multidisciplinary Studies from Glendon College (York University), which allowed her to combine her interests in languages (Italian and French) and law. The trilingual Perruccio then went on to complete her Masters coursework through York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, focusing on social environments, specifically, the discrimination faced by Italian-Canadians in Toronto after the Second World War. Her research was put on hold while she pursued a law degree at the University of Windsor, but she plans to complete it.

For now, Perruccio is focused on practicing family law and is committed to assisting her clients during what might be the most challenging periods in their lives. “I am passionate about what I do – everything from the initial client meeting, to mediation, court attendances and the completion of a file. I love being able to find creative solutions to meet the individual needs of my clients,” she says.

While the demands of her career keep Perruccio working long hours, she longs to spend time with her parents and her two younger sisters (Daniela, 28 and Alessandra, 25) even if that means sharing at least one meal together on weekends. Perruccio’s father was born in Argusto, Catanzaro in Calabria. Following in his brother’s footsteps, he immigrated to Canada in 1973 in search of a better life. Perruccio’s mother, also from a Calabrese background, was born and raised in Toronto. 

Perruccio’s Italian upbringing is something she is fiercely proud of. “Italian traditions and culture are an important part of my life and have played a significant role in shaping me as an individual. My strong work ethic is rooted in the values and morals my parents instilled in me at a young age.” Some of Perruccio’s fondest memories of growing up in an Italian family include always being surrounded by family, friends, and food of course.“Whether it was sitting around the lunch table on a Sunday afternoon, making sugo over the Labour Day weekend or buying an entire cantina full of panettone and visiting relatives at Christmas, Easter and other times, the love and laughter that filled my home cannot be understated,” she explains.

“Italian traditions and culture are an important part of my life

and have played a significant role in shaping me as an individual”

While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Perruccio was lucky enough to be able to study abroad at the University of Bologna for one of her Italian courses. Thus began her love affair with Italy. She found a reason to return every summer, while working as a supervisor and assistant teacher with the Centro Scuola e Cultura Italiana Summer Exchange Program in Italy for Canadian high school students.

Besides her career and family, volunteer work is also very important to Perruccio. “I maintain my commitment to volunteerism as a mentor to youth and [am a] strong advocate and supporter of various organizations, such as Camp Oochigeas, Parkinson Canada and SickKids® Foundation,” she says.

Perruccio is currently president and chair of La Rocca Memorial Society, a non-profit organization, whose mission includes inspiring volunteerism and engaging young people to become change makers in their communities. A past bursary recipient, Perruccio is living proof that the next generation can be encouraged to become involved and make a real difference in the lives of others.

Her career, family life and volunteer work show no sign of slowing down anytime soon, just as Perruccio likes it. If she could give any advice to future leaders, it’s this: “Be true to who you are and never compromise your values or beliefs for anyone or anything. There is nothing greater than one’s integrity. Work hard and persevere in order to achieve your goals and never forget your roots and where you came from.”

Reprinted with permission from Panoram Italia    

Organizing change: Sarah LeBlanc helps organizations reach full potential

by Laura Dillman Ripley

Sometimes you just have to try things. That’s a mantra Mount Allison University grad Sarah LeBlanc (‘06) lives by and one she is helping non-profits and other public and private organizations benefit from. 

“I really believe in the value of public organizations and non-profits that serve our communities,” says LeBlanc, a social and organizational change strategist based in Montreal, QC. “My works seeks to help these organizations find strategies that can make them more efficient and innovative with limited resources.”

Some of LeBlanc’s roster of clients includes Ongozah.com, the YWCA, and the Government of New Brunswick.

Prior to moving to Montreal in early 2016, LeBlanc, who is originally from Dieppe, NB, worked as executive director of le Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick (RFNB), an organization that aims to represent francophone women in the province.

LeBlanc was one of the first staff members at the RFNB, established in 2007. Along with lobbying for change on behalf of New Brunswick women, she was also tasked with establishing the new organization, and working to form relationships with government officials and other non-profit organizations in both the francophone and anglophone sectors of the province.

“In the early days, it was just me in the office (of the RFNB),” she says. “We grew to include a team of six people.”

Under LeBlanc’s mandate, the RFNB saw many milestones, including the establishment of the New Brunswick Voices of Women Consensus Building Forum, as well as the provincial government’s adoption of a gender-based analysis for new government policies.

“I’m proud of the roles we played in these changes in New Brunswick, along with several other lobbying groups and organizations,” says LeBlanc. 

LeBlanc also worked on Parliament Hill for two years in the office of well-known Senator and celebrated humanitarian Roméo Dallaire. During this time (between 2006 and 2008), Dallaire’s office handled many high-profile files including the Omar Khadr case, child soldiers, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the adoption of Bill C-293, concerning the provision of official development assistance abroad. The aim of the bill was to center Canada's official development assistance abroad around poverty reduction.

 “Working on Parliament Hill was an amazing experience, you learn so much,” says LeBlanc. “I am grateful for my time in Ottawa as an administrative and legislative assistant for Senator Dallaire.”

 LeBlanc also credits her alma mater for its impact on her budding career.

“As a student, I always felt that everyone at Mount A was out to change the world. It was a wonderful environment to be part of, and one I’ve grown to appreciate since leaving there,” she says.

Coming to campus from a francophone background, LeBlanc says both students and faculty played key roles in her education and future career choices.

“As a student I started a discussion and action group on gender issues, which received a lot of support from my peers. Academically, I worked with so many great professors including Dr. Loralea Michaelis in political science and (the late) Dr. Marie Hammond-Callaghan in what was then women’s studies. Both had a huge impact on my career choices.”

LeBlanc returned to campus in 2015 for the first Women in Leadership conference at Mount Allison where she facilitated a panel discussion and participated in a mentorship event.

“It is always great to go back to Mount Allison and be part of this community again,” she says.

Learn more about Sarah LeBlanc’s consulting company 

This article appeared in the Winter 2016 edition of The Record, Mount Allison University’s Magazine for Alumni & Friends. Reprinted with permission. /  Photo credit: Louis-Philippe Chiasson.

 

 

 

Personal Support Worker Paves the Way for Brighter Future

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Since October 2015, Shelby Hamilton has been working as a Personal Support Worker at the Country Care Seniors Residence in Allenford, Ontario. This position also allows her to pursue an education via correspondence while working and raising her three children, Paige, Lexie and the newest edition to the family, Bryon. At the end of every day, Shelby goes home knowing that she has not only improved the lives of her clients but she has also paved the way for a brighter future for herself and her kids:

“I love helping people and I love how happy my work makes the seniors and how rewarding it is to see the smiles on their faces every day,” says Shelby. “I have been through a lot, and when I was pregnant with my son, I realized I wasn't where I wanted to be…. I wanted to help people and be happy and have a rewarding job that could also help me provide a better more rewarding life and future for my kids….” As a single mom who was left during each pregnancy, Shelby learned the hard way that she needed to be able to depend on herself, and her dependability has served her well in this career, knowing that the seniors count on her to be there as part of their daily routine.

Shelby’s work day begins at 7 AM and ends “after tea time” at 4 PM. “As soon as I get there I get the residents up and cleaned up, and dressed for the day, and get them all to the breakfast table.” She assists them with both their food and medication throughout the day. “After breakfast, I assist them to their rooms or the living room (or wherever they want to go).” Soon it is time for lunch, which she prepares, and then she helps the residents once again with their meal and medication. After the meal is over, Shelby cleans up once again and returns the residents to their room of choice. Before you know it, it’s time for tea!

Within the first few weeks on the job, Shelby realized that a lot of the people in her care did not receive many visitors, and there were hardly any young children coming in to say hello. With that in mind and Halloween coming up at the time, she took it upon herself to “brighten their day”. 

“On the Wednesday before Halloween I got off work, came home, got my kids dressed up and took them out to Country Care! All the residents were so happy! They all had smiles on their faces! The only male resident who is 96 years old put Lexie (my 3 year old) on his knee and talked with her and then took Bryon (my 3 month old son) … and started to give him a horsey ride on his knee.” Shelby recalls another resident in palliative care with Alzheimer’s Disease, who also had a positive reaction to her children: “[She] very rarely smiles and very rarely speaks and she was smiling ear to ear and talking to the kids! It brought tears to my eyes to see how happy it made them and warmed my heart.”

For Shelby Hamilton, positivity and passion are two key things needed in this line of work for both those who are giving and receiving care: “The one piece of advice I would give to someone entering this field is that you have to have a passion for it. You have to love what you do or else you won't be happy and that will also impact the seniorsbecause they will sense that and it will have a negative impact on everyone, but especially the seniors suffering with Alzheimer's and dementia.” As for her own success, Shelby credits her children for giving her a reason to keep moving forward and for becoming a better person. She hopes to inspire other moms along the way as well, knowing that the journey in life is not always an easy one, especially when raising a family: “For other hard working moms out there, I would just like to say, tough times make you stronger, dark times will get brighter and sad times will get happier. Keep pushing forward, keep your chin up, make goals and reach for them. It will make you feel amazing and will make an amazing life for yourself and your children! My kids are my rock and are the reason why I am where I am today. I don't know where I would be without them.”

Making Connections! Erika Faust’s Communication Story

By Erin Annis, WorkStory Ambassador at University of Guelph

One of the most inspiring quotes I have heard in regards to careers is “You’re most powerful where your passion is.” Erika Faust has followed this guiding light to grasp her personal career success.

Erika is currently the Corporate and Internal Communications Assistant at Toronto Community Housing.  She is also a freelance writer and editor.  The path to follow her dreams began with her love for reading and writing.  Throughout school – at the University of Guelph-Humber – she had recognized her passion for writing and began editing her friend’s papers (even later on, editing her friend’s university thesis!).   Recognizing her love for editing, Erika became the go-to editor for her friends and family for whom she reviewed reports, resumes and more.

Her writing and editing skills became a key part of Erika’s career journey during her fourth year at Guelph-Humber, where she took Media Studies. During that year, she landed an internship in the Advertising department of her hometown newspaper, the London Free Press.  Her boss recognized such talent in Erika that when she left to start her own communications firm, she hired Erika right away to do freelance writing and editing for her (and has been doing so ever since!)

Prior to working at Toronto Community Housing, Erika worked both as a staff writer for the Fanshawe College newspaper “Interrobang” as well as an Internal Communications Coordinator at Goodlife Fitness.  These roles gave her integral skills pertaining to her career.  Her job as a staff writer allowed her to gain management experience once she was promoted to editor, managing a team of 20 students.  Her experience at Goodlife was a refreshing change as it involved duties such as administering the intranet site and even some event planning. 

The game changer for Erika was the big move from London to Toronto after her husband found employment there.  Although this involved “abandoning” the place she grew up in and jumping into a situation of uncertainty, Erika viewed this experience as a “big adventure”.  During this time, she didn’t lose sight of her passion and continued to do freelance writing as she searched for a new job. 

Periods of unemployment are a major struggle for young people.  As Erika put it “It’s scary not knowing if you’re going to be able to find a job, and it can be really disheartening.”  Here is what she focused on to combat this period of unemployment:

• Networking with people with interesting jobs. “I set up informational interviews to get advice from different people. We chatted about my options and they told me what they thought I could do to shine as a job seeker.”

• Continuing education. “I tried to use the Duolingo app to learn French – I didn’t get very far with it, but I did practice every day during the summer! I also attended several communications-focused webinars and took an online class in WordPress through Udemy.”

• Doing some freelance and part-time work. “It kept my skills sharp, expanded my writing portfolio and gave me something to talk about in interviews.”

• Volunteering. “I signed up to help out at some local events, and I became a regular volunteer at a local museum. Volunteering helped me get acquainted with my new city, and I got to meet lots of like-minded people – people who just like to help out and get involved.”

Starting September 2015, Erika began her current communications role with Toronto Community Housing.  One of the most rewarding parts of her job is the non-profit environment.  “Toronto Community Housing serves about 6 percent of the population in Toronto.  I really like knowing I am part of an organization that helps so many people.”

Erika’s key to success?  Making connections!

“My boss during my London Free Press internship gave me my first paid writing and editing gig. Connections I made while working at Fanshawe College have hooked me up with freelance work. A reporter I met while attending an event in 2013 eventually became a managing editor at Metro newspaper in Toronto and gave me a part-time copy editor job. My mom – who is truly a master networker – has introduced me to some really fabulous people who gave me a ton of insight and helped prepare me for future job interviews.”

Reaching out can be the most difficult, yet beneficial, move that you can make to enhance your career- but it is 100% recommended.

“If you see someone on LinkedIn who works at a company you admire in a role you’d love, reach out to them! It may seem a little awkward at first, but I promise, it gets easier every time you do it. People are usually flattered when you ask them for advice, and they often want to help you out – maybe their company isn’t hiring, but maybe they know another great place that needs someone with your exact skill set. Even if the connection doesn’t help you find a job, it can be a really valuable learning opportunity.”

The ability to put yourself out there is integral for making the best out of your career journey.  Erika is an exemplary model having followed her passion, staying open minded and continually making important career connections. 

Amanda Stark is The Friendly Visitor

By Emma Kushnir, WorkStory Ambassador at Western University

Amanda Stark has worked for her own self-started business The Friendly Visitor, in London, for fourteen months. After attending Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener, she realized there was a lack of support for those with Parkinson’s Disease and other seniors’ needs. As The Friendly Visitor, she provides companionship, helping-hand services, and life-skills coaching, in order to facilitate clients’ independence at home and to connect them with other resources.  Her goal is to help her clients live as well, and as independently, as possible.  

As the owner of The Friendly Visitor, Amanda manages all of the administrative tasks, and all marketing initiatives, including advertising, social media, community networking and the website. She first became interested in this type of work when she was living with her uncle who has Parkinson’s Disease.  Amanda used to help him around the house, drive him to appointments, and go on weekly movie dates. This, as well as her experience and visits with her grandmother, inspired Amanda to venture into this line of work.

Amanda has a counselling degree from Emmanuel Bible College, and many years of administrative assistant and customer service work. In addition to these skills, she explains that “this job takes a certain personality to connect with clients and to build rapport.”  The job also involves conflict management, facilitating group discussion and awareness of mental health concerns. She notes that “given the general nature of the helping hands component, it also requires a willingness to get our hands dirty and do whatever is needed. In some cases the skill of resourcefulness has been my best asset, by helping with pets, making meals, and doing laundry, among other things.”  Also important for anyone who is self-employed are time management skills -- knowing how to prioritize tasks and optimize time in the schedule.   Having a general knowledge of the operational side of business, Amanda also knows where she should hire out, so she can focus on the things she’s good at.  For example?  “I enjoy coordinating and customer service, but I am not great with numbers so that’s why I have a bookkeeper. Networking is another strength that fits well with running a business. Making connections in the business community as well as in the public is what goes the extra mile to spread the word about a small business.”

When asked why she loves her work, Amanda has a long list!  “I love my clients – I think my seniors are my favorites. I don’t have any grandparents, so I love hearing their stories and getting their advice on life. It’s the relationships in general that are my favorite – whether learning from other business owners, connecting with people in the community, or staying in touch with the families of the people I serve. I also love the variety, the fact one day I’m gardening, the next day I’m moving furniture and the next I’m having a conversation about life skills.” Speaking of a particular 93-year-old client, Amanda loves hearing her old stories about London many years ago, and that she considers Amanda family. Similarly, she enjoyed working with an 83-year old client who shared many stories about growing up in Greece, moving to Canada and making a life there.

Making the decision to go into business for herself was the biggest decision that Amanda has ever made. She could have worked for someone else, but because of a physical injury she also needs specific prioritizing. So working for herself seemed best.  Another hard decision involved whether to follow the advice of others or do what she felt was right. Amanda explains that “many well-meaning people had advice about the different aspects of getting started, but not all advice was helpful or fruitful. Along with that, knowing who I could trust was a big challenge.” Her branding was also critically important, so she did a lot of research before her business name and logo were created.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the biggest challenge Amanda faced was finances. It was difficult starting a business when there wasn’t much money coming in at the beginning. She was lucky enough to go through the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit program before its recent cancellation.  Getting attention for her business was also challenging since her advertising budget was focused on word-of-mouth marketing.   Amanda acknowledges that she had her moments of doubt wondering if this was “the right path” for her, but quickly adds that “I absolutely know 100% that it is…no good thing is accomplished without a little struggle.”

Amanda’s advice for others?  “Be honest with yourself. If you are not a self-starter, you probably shouldn’t start your own business!  But trust yourself. You know what you know – be confident in that. Reflect on what you’re good at and choose a career that focuses on your strengths. Don’t just go where someone tells you to go – if I had done that, I would still be sitting at a receptionist desk somewhere.”

Find out more at The Friendly Visitor website: http://www.thefriendlyvisitor.ca

 

Feeling Like a Hero: A Child and Youth Worker’s Perspective

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Chayse Jackson is currently working towards becoming a Child and Youth Worker at Fanshawe College. As part of her placement, Chayse is working with children aged 6-12 at 24-hour crisis centre that supports families in London, Ontario. On a daily basis, she is there to support their needs and to provide a safe and fun environment:

“We try and make their stay the best possible and have it not like a group home, but more like camp -- like a sleepover….We play outside with them. We've done glow in the dark ring toss and science experiments. We play sports in the gym and I eat dinner with them…. I do programming every Tuesday night. [We] make crafts or do games. Then on Wednesdays, we do social skills groups. I've done one where the kids have pretend moustaches and it’s called ‘I Moustache You a Question’. They get questions and go around practicing ice breakers and work on making new friends.”

In addition, Chayse has attended many other events with the children including a rookie tournament game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators, a kid-friendly Halloween party put on by Western University and a play at The Grand Theatre. Many of these activities are things that the children might not have the opportunity to experience elsewhere and Chayse is proud to be a part of their lives:

“I love my job because I get to help kids and preserve that spark they have. I get to enjoy their creativity and imaginations. I see the bad and good. I have to see and hear the worst of the worst but I see progress and am able to be their advocate and voice. I get to feel like a hero and that safe person they can talk to. I love seeing them accomplish things they never thought they could or [were] told they couldn't do…. I get to see potential and I love being able to share moments and have the kids do things they may never do outside of the organization, and I like to think I can teach them to be resilient and strong.”

Chayse adds that being in this type of setting lets kids be kids and it alleviates some of the big stressors in their lives such as the impact of their own mental illnesses or how their parents may act towards them. Within the centre, children no longer have to question whether or not they will have enough to eat, a place to sleep, a place to shower and most importantly, they no longer have to wonder if they, along with their siblings, are safe.

“They don't need to worry about big, scary issues. They can let loose, and just be a kid. They can feel relaxed and have weight lifted off their shoulders…. seeing that glow and spark in their eyes -- it’s euphoric. It gives me ‘warm fuzzies’ and makes me feel like I'm on cloud nine.

Like many of the children she has worked with, Chayse has had her own battles with mental illness over the years. Despite the hard times, she has pushed herself to keep moving forward in order to help others.

“I struggled as a kid with mental illness, and still do. I had a rough go with my family and bullying and I see a lot of myself in these kids. In high school I had a counsellor and I saw what she did for me and I want to be there for the kids. I never want anyone to feel alone like I did.” For anyone else who feels the same way and would like to be a Child and Youth Worker, Chayse offers the following advice:

“Be able to think on your feet because every kid is different. They think differently, they act differently and they test your limits to see how much it takes you to crack. They're used to people leaving and giving up on them, so be resilient and show them you're there for the long run. You have to be stable emotionally. You're going to see and hear a lot of tough things but remember, at the end of the day, any progress is something and you may be all they have. You're like a firefighter. People count on you. You're strong and smart and brave and you’re a hero to these kids. They look up to you. You need to be able to be optimistic and be able to see potential in the good and bad.”  And, for those the Grey-Bruce area, or elsewhere, Chayse and the author strongly recommend Wes for Youth Online -- a counselling service.

Although Chayse may not always work with the same organization after graduation, she would love to volunteer and then apply to it in the future. She would also like to work with those who have been impacted by eating disorders. An avid animal lover as well, Chayse says she is “really interested in doing therapeutic [horse] riding with troubled and disabled kids.” Wherever Chayse Jackson’s path takes her, her positive impact is sure to be felt by everyone she meets along the way.

In memory of Justin Hammond

Vincent Gauthier Granted a Second Chance to Help Others

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Vincent Gauthier works as a Residential Counselor for Sudbury Developmental Services. During the school year, he is also a Child and Youth Worker as well as an Educational Assistant. In his own childhood, Vincent had many struggles which he overcame with the guidance of others, and now he strives to offer the same assistance to those who need it:

“I understand what it means to be challenged by the environment you grow up in and how [difficult] it can be;” says Gauthier. For him, there were certain people who saw past “the darker parts” of who he was, and they helped him to see who he could be. Without their support, Vincent believes that he never would have “made it this far” and he feels as though he was given this opportunity to help others in return: “Because I was granted a second chance, I chose to dedicate my career to those who need others to believe they can succeed and achieve their goals as well.”

Vincent began his post-secondary education at Fanshawe College in London which he thoroughly enjoyed: “I had a fantastic experience in learning from some of the best and most passionate professors....”

“I am currently going into my third year of a Bachelor's in social work (in French) at Laurentian University in Sudbury. This was done because I learned that in the field of Human Services, the more pieces of paper you have from post-secondary institutions, the better it will be to further your career.” Gauthier also feels that a post-secondary education can help lead to a bigger impact that one can have “on a macro scale” in terms of helping those in need.

Whether he is working at Sudbury Developmental Services or within the educational system, Vincent is most excited about the people he works with and that he is able to make a difference in their lives: “I love many aspects of my job. I love the people I support and get to meet. I love the fact that I get to positively impact the lives of those who are often faced with struggle. The best part of my job, however, is knowing that I get to contribute [to] making a difference in my community... and the world.”

Although Vincent Gauthier was driven to work in the field of Human Services, it has not been a simple task. He advises others that it will be a challenge for them as well, should they choose a career path similar to his:

“It's a hard job, don't think for a second that it will be easy—and for that reason—make sure you find a healthy way to deal with the stressors of the job.”

Gauthier also advises that working in this field requires the ability to adapt to change, even if the changes happen at a slower pace: “Don't forget that change does not occur over night, either in behavioral intervention or advocating, or any aspects of the field you decide to go in. Change takes time, and for that be patient. Never give up, because at the end of the day there's a lot more at stake than your own sense of pride. Lastly, never hold a grudge against those you are working with or supporting.”  All great advice! 

Melissa Appleton: A Career in Conflict Resolution

By Emma Kushnir, WorkStory Ambassador

When Melissa Appleton took the “What colour is my parachute?” quiz in school, it always told her to become a lawyer, social worker or psychologist, but she knew those traditional jobs were not the right fit. Thus she entered McMaster University’s interdisciplinary Arts and Science Program with no idea of what to do with her life. Soon she discovered all the electives she had picked and enjoyed were under the Peace Studies umbrella. This was partially influenced by the fact that she lived in Israel for a year after high school. She graduated from McMaster University with an honours degree in Peace Studies and planned to work internationally in the Balkans (a region in Southeast Europe) with a local NGO, which produced social educational theatre for young people. Through the experience she learned that international development was still not the right fit for her, but also realized she needed more concrete skills. Melissa continued her graduate education at Columbia University for Peace Education, oriented towards practice with a focus on conflict resolution.

In 2008, Melissa started working at a local mediation organization, the New York Peace Institute, in Brooklyn, New York. The New York Peace Institute is one of the largest community mediation organizations in the United States. Through state and city funding, the organization offers free mediation and conflict resolution services to the New York City community. Mediation is defined by the New York Peace Institute’s website as “a conversation between two or more people, led by a trained, neutral mediator, and is a less expensive, time-saving alternative to court”. They allow people to settle their differences, to get what they need or even to just be heard, for a myriad of different reasons. Melissa started there as the Outreach Coordinator, but now acts as the Program Manager.  As the program manager, she “focuses on building and maintaining referral relationships, and increasing use of the services through the development of programs to meet the needs of the community”.

She explains her inspiration was from her upbringing. She was very involved in the social justice-oriented Jewish youth movement as a child, which largely impacted her life by introducing her to “isms” such as racism and sexism at an early age. This not only got her care about the world and other people, but also started her love of conflict resolution, and the facilitation and training of it. Melissa enlightens, “I didn’t go into school intending to work in mediation or conflict resolution… I was honestly unaware of the option, but given my sensibility and interests, it makes perfect sense that I landed in this field.”

When asked about why she loves her job, she replied “mediation is [a] very rewarding and engaging occupation for me. I am continuously challenged to grow, to learn, and to improve my practice. With my clients it’s a privilege to support and witness people making transformative decisions, and moving forward in ways that make their lives better”.  Melissa explains that on her path there was,  of course,  the challenges that people face when their career falls outside of traditional career options, but the hardest part was really just finding the right job.

Melissa’s advice for people figuring out what they want to do is “talk to people, LOTS of people, people you know and people you don’t, and ask them about how they figured it out, and what lessons they learned from their experiences. Don’t limit yourself to the easy options, the ones that have their own professional degrees in school.  And stand firm against people who pressure you into these standard careers. There are so many different ways to make a living. Some of them just require some extra creativity, willingness to work hard, and comfort with the uncertainty of how things will turn out. Do internships at places you find intriguing. By volunteering, you get to see what the day-to-day reality actually looks like. Internships are also a tremendous networking tool, do good work and people will want to help you moving forward.”

To learn more about mediation and the New York Peace Institute visit http://nypeace.org


Lovely Rita: A Personal Support Worker’s Perspective on Helping Others

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

If you have been looking for Rita Parent over the years, her location may have varied. However, Rita can always be found helping others, no matter where she is. For the last decade, the Tonawanda, New York native has served as a Personal Support Worker for countless people in the London, Ontario area.

Originally, Rita went to school for nursing in the United States, but as Parent recalls, things didn’t go as planned: “When I moved to Canada in 1983, the government didn't recognize my diploma in nursing and I was a single mother at the time.... I was unable to start over until many years later, where I decided to take a bridging course as a PSW.”

 Before returning to school, Rita faced many challenges while raising her young son in a new country. Regardless, she remained committed to helping others, even though she was not recognized as a nurse in Canada:  “We lived in Haliburton, Ontario – one of the greatest tourism towns in Ontario. I became a waitress at Sir Sam’s Inn, which – in my eyes – was easy for me, as it was still something I could do [to] give the customer[s] what they needed. I loved that job.”

 Many people would think that re-entering the educational system after a long period of time would be a daunting or scary task, but not Rita! Her advice to other adults (especially single moms) who might be apprehensive about going back to school is to not to fear it at all: “Don't be afraid to go after what you want!” she exclaims. According to Rita, school can even be enjoyable as an adult! “As a mature student, I enjoyed school more. [I loved] it so much, I couldn't stop! I had to make some sacrifices, but I did it!”

Currently, Rita is a Personal Support Worker for Cheshire London. Cheshire provides attendant (PSW) services for clients in their own homes, to assist them with healthcare and daily living. She feels very fortunate to have found her calling in this field: “I was lucky to find a great job where I have to utilize all of my skills at a client’s home. My job gives an individual the care they need and the opportunity to live independently.” Rita has also been able to “learn and grow” from the many individuals she has worked with, including award-winning, Paralympic Athlete, Tammy McLeod.

 Personal Support Work and athleticism are not often thought of as two things that go hand-in-hand, but it turns out that they do!  Parent and McLeod excelled together when Rita worked as Tammy’s caregiver and sports assistant in boccia ball. Tammy McLeod is a member of the Canadian Paralympic Boccia Ball Team. Rita says that working with Tammy was the “most rewarding part” of her job as a PSW: “I learned so much about boccia ball through the eyes of many athletes with disabilities. Not only did I assist and care, but I became close friends with many people all over the world. I'm very grateful for the experiences!” Although she is no longer involved with sport, Rita says she keeps “a close watch” on Tammy and her career.

Rita Parent admits that being a personal support worker is “a very demanding occupation. It's not meant for everyone, but if you have what it takes you'll go far. You need to be compassionate and love your work....” For her, “there is no doubt... that the healthcare field is the way to go, and we are in great need of PSWs.... I hope I'm not too wishy-washy, but I really love my job!”

The Meal Deal: A new social enterprise is providing innovative hunger relief

by Carol Crenna 

Taking their parents’ dictum “Don’t waste food on your plate; there is someone less fortunate” to heart, Derek Juno (BCom ’11), Jeremy Bryant and Andrew Hall (BCom ’11) left their lucrative jobs to launch Mealshare, a social enterprise that partners with restaurants to help feed the homeless.

“At age 24, we considered whether we wanted to continue our current careers for the next 20 years or try something unique that’s in keeping with our values,” says Hall. “We considered opening a restaurant and giving away unused perishable food, but our expertise is in creating partnerships, not running a restaurant.”

Mealshare makes it easy for the public to give not just spare change to a homeless person for food, but a hot, nourishing meal. When dining at a restaurant, you simply choose a Mealshare - branded menu item and the restaurant then provides a meal to someone in need. The innovative concept, which combines corporate social responsibility with the “buy-one-get-one-free” model, has Mealshare covering the food costs of the charities’ donated meals.

As part of the partnership agreement with its restaurants, Mealshare completes all marketing including designing, printing and delivering collateral material, event promotions, and traditional and social media campaigns. The resulting promotion and community relations can translate into financial and community profile gains for the restaurant.

Three years ago, Hall, formerly a tech strategy consultant, and Juno, a retail development manager, completed their BCom specializing in Entrepreneurship from UVic and now share these tasks in Vancouver for the BC market. Bryant, an accountant and UAlberta BCom grad living in Edmonton, directs operations in Alberta.

Launched in late 2013, Mealshare today “shares” approximately 8,000 meals per month—1,000 each in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton, and 4,000 internationally (half of the meals are distributed through a Third World charity). By summer this number is expected to double with six new restaurant partners already slated in BC and Alberta.

Mealshare currently works with 40 restaurants: 15 in Victoria, 12 in Calgary, eight in Vancouver and five in Edmonton. The non-profit organization chooses non-denominational, solution-oriented charity partners. “Someone comes in the door for a meal, but then has the opportunity to get job training, counselling or just a shower to help get their life back on a better track,” explains Hall. “If we help support meal costs, charities can spend more time and money on these initiatives.”

For example, The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre found that after only seven months, Mealshare’s donation covers a day’s worth of meals and made a significant difference in its fundraising budget. 

“Approximately one-million Canadians get food support each month and eight-million Canadians dine out each day. If we can turn some of that dining out into helping out, there is an incredible opportunity ahead of us.”

This story, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in Business Class Magazine, a publication of the Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria.    

   
PS…Mealshare is also now in Toronto!

Tasha Cull: Proud Mom and Personal Support Worker

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Tasha Cull has been working as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) for nearly three years in the city of London, Ontario and the surrounding area. She travels every day to and from her clients’ homes to give them the help that they need in order to live as independently as possible. Tasha’s favourite part of the job is building the same type of relationship with her clients that friends would have: “I love taking the time to [get to] know my clients and build a sense of trust and [understanding] with them.”

Tasha was inspired to become a Personal Support Worker after she witnessed the care that a PSW provided to her great-grandmother when she was “going through her final stages of life.... She suffered from dementia and cancer....”

Tasha watched as the PSW’s care and compassion shone through, even when her great-grandmother “was at her worst”. Cull noticed that the Personal Support Worker always “remained composed”, which made a positive impression and  led Tasha onto this career path. “I knew I wanted to set out and be like her. I'll never be as good as she was, but I aim each day to be like her.”

Cull studied to become a Personal Support Worker at Westervelt College in London in 2011 and then graduated in 2012 with honours! She now has a family of her own with her husband, Allan. They became parents in 2014 to their son, Everick who is seen in Tasha’s photo. When asked if being a mom has influenced the way she works or if her job influenced her as a parent, she replied as follows.

“Oh yes! As a PSW, I learned a lot about caring for another person and I feel like being a mom has definitely changed how I treat others. It's most certainly helped me cope knowing I've done this before, just not with such a wee one. I've always cared about others in a compassionate and gentle way; but having a baby makes you so much more emotional to others’ feelings because a baby and most elders can't or won't tell you how they’re feeling. I can now relate to elders on a different level! It doesn't take a mind reader to know when someone's in pain but it's easy to hide it when someone is scared or unsure how you'll react when they tell you. Many elderly people will hide the pain because they don’t want to trouble you, or make you feel obligated to help. Being a mom, I've been more aware and able to see the signs more clearly when my little one is in pain or upset, because obviously a 3 month old can't tell you they can't poop or have an upset tummy.”

At the time this article was written, Cull was still on maternity leave, however, she said, “I can't wait to go back to work and share my stories and hear more about my clients’ memories of their little ones as well!”

Through working with others as a PSW, Tasha has learned that it is not always about the physical care she provides. She trusts that anyone who is looking to become a Personal Support Worker will also be emotionally supportive for their clients. It may seem obvious but being compassionate is a huge part of the job: 

“I hope they have patience and a lot of different experiences in life. You must have a strong heart and a sharp mind because you come across so many interesting people from all walks of life and you need to be kind to every one of them.... They all have their own story and a lot [of them are] heart breaking.” But all in all for Tasha Cull, “It's a very rewarding career!”

Burning Desire: Eric Fick the Firefighter

By Eric Fick as told to Brandon Pedersen, WorkStory Ambassador

Hello, my name is Eric Fick and I am from a little farm town called Bradford, Ontario  and this is the story about how I got to where I am today.

During the early stages of my life, my only wish in the world was to become a teacher. When you ask a 10 or 11 year old, “what would you like to be when you grow up?”, the response is usually: a hockey player, ballerina, astronaut, etc., but not me. As I grew older and matured into a high school student my dream was still there. Throughout grade nine and ten I was determined, and applied myself to my studies, achieving honours in academic courses. It came to my attention, though,  that it wasn't going to be easy going through university and teachers college. As my social life got the best of me for the last two years of high school, I had dropped from honours in academic courses to barely getting by in applied courses. Unfortunately, my lack of self-discipline resulted in me avoiding the university application process. I decided to take an alternative path and applied to Fanshawe College for electrical engineering. I have always been rather handy, so I figured I’d put that to good use. Luckily I was accepted, but did not last very long. I had once again let my social life take over.

After thousands of dollars were basically thrown down the drain, I decided to smarten up and take a more practical electrical course to become an electrician. I had finally been able to return to my former self and completed that course, but something was still missing. I was not happy with the career path that I had chosen. At this point in time I did not know what I was going to do with my life.

Then one day it came to me.

I always had an interest in the firefighting profession, but people had always told me it was too difficult to get into, especially in an era when fire departments are hiring more women and minorities. I had soon learned that, yes it is extremely competitive, but it is strictly the best man or women for the job that gets hired. This increased my desire – I’ve always loved a good competition.

I decided to apply to the Pre-Service Firefighting program at Seneca College. From day one I knew it was what I wanted  to pursue for as long as my body would allow me to. I worked for one year straight harder than I ever had in the past. I am happy to say that I graduated with honours and a GPA of 3.8. I had never achieved such good marks and feedback from my teachers before. It was extremely rewarding and helped me realise that this is truly what I was born to do.

It is commonly known that it can take years and a lot of money and volunteer hours to just get involved in the hiring process for any given fire department. The lengthy process includes a written test (with components such as reading compression, memory skills, math skills, and mechanical aptitude), a physical test (including eye sight, hearing, claustrophobia test, acrophobia test, strenuous endurance and strength test, swim test) on top of the entire interview process. Right from the moment I knew I wanted to be a firefighter I started practicing all on these skills.

I stayed focused and when an opportunity to become a volunteer firefighter arouse in the town of Bradford I obviously jumped on it. Not even half way through my Pre-Service Firefighter course,  I had been hired on the Bradford Fire Department as a paid part time employee.                       

As of January 27th 2015, I have responded to 47 emergency calls and counting. The job of a Firefighter is well respected and I love everything it has to offer. To me, there is no better pleasure in the world then to rush to the fire hall, jump on the fire apparatus, and head over to make the worst day of someone’s life better.  It has been a rollercoaster ride to get to where I am today, but it has all been worth it and it is only looking up from here. 

Finding the Right Fit: Travis’ Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Travis Tibbo, who is known for helping his own community in times of need, seems to have made the right career choice as a Community Support Worker. When asked why he loves his job, Travis replied:

I love my job because it is very rewarding. Every day, the work I do is helping others to live the life they want. Hearing somebody say ‘thanks’ at the end of a shift always makes the job worthwhile.”

Raised in Chesley, ON, Travis “took the college route” and attended Fanshawe College in London for the Developmental Service Worker program. He graduated in 2013. Travis began working in his field while at school and has had various work experiences which led to where he is today:

“I work at Community Living Owen Sound and District. I started off working in Community Living London while I was going to school. While I was there, I worked in a residential house which was lived in by four gentlemen and one lady. Right before graduation, I had an interview to work in Port Elgin. I got a 20 hour contract and I also worked casual part-time.”

Unfortunately at this point, Travis was not receiving enough hours, so he took on a position at a youth correctional facility known as “Pine Hill”. Although this was outside of his field, Tibbo was used to working with different types of behavioural issues and was willing to give it a try. Then he was offered the full-time position at Community Living in Owen Sound, where he works now. Travis said that “it was the same district as Port Elgin, but just a new location.” He accepted the offer and he saw his hours increase, which made him very happy.

The Developmental Service Worker Program helped Travis a great deal in his career. He is very lucky that everything he learned can actually be applied on the job:

“I learned how to write SMART goals, which I use mostly every day. I also had 3 separate placements which helped me decide what I would like to do. I now support people who live mostly independently and help to support them with their everyday tasks. I help to assist them with their jobs or volunteer placements and also with their everyday needs like banking, shopping, hygiene, apartment supports (like cooking and cleaning) plus anything more they would need. Everything that I have learned in school I can use in my every day at work, from proper documenting to proper delivery of medication.” Travis also acquired knowledge of various disabilities while he was in college. With this information, he is able to “gain a rapport” with the individuals that he supports.

Travis Tibbo works very hard at what he does but he also has fun at the same time! So, if you have been considering a career similar to Travis’, then he thinks you are already on the right path towards doing what you love. Here is his advice for you:

“The only thing I can say to someone who would like to go to school for a Developmental Service Worker is, ‘DO IT!’ You will not regret it, as it is one of the most fun-filled, rewarding jobs I have had. Most days it doesn't even feel like a job. It's so much fun!”

Doing What Comes Naturally

By Karli Steen, WorkStory Ambassador

Developmental Service Worker Amber Whayman was introduced to helping disabled children through an elementary school co-op program.  With the original goal of being a teacher, all it took was one question to change her mind: "An EA in the class asked me if I wanted to learn about autism. I of course said yes, and if it wasn't for her asking me, I don't know what I would be doing now. I fell in love with working with the students as an EA and learning about disabilities and how to support people".

However, it wasn't just a question that inspired Amber's path: "I also believe that my dad had an influence on my career. When I was 8 he was in a car accident that left him with an acquired brain injury. I watched supports come into the house to help him recover, and I took on the role of helping him from a very young age. Helping people is just my nature! It's what I have always done."

Amber followed her natural instincts by going into Fanshawe College's DSW program. When asked what she found most useful about the program, Amber says that she took a little bit of knowledge from every course, but the most useful were the stories of first-hand experiences shared by the professors, because they  provided insight on what to do and what not to do in important situations.

Amber recalls that in school she was shy and reserved. Now that she is working with Forward House, and has gained more experience, being shy is a thing of the past.  When asked what a typical day on the job would look like, Amber had this to say: "Well it depends on the day. I work in  supported living houses where there are at max two people living in each location. I assist people with the activities of daily living such as showering, dressing, meal prep, feeding, and medications. Basically anything you do for yourself in the day, I assist people with those things.We go to medical appointments, grocery shopping, and fun stuff like hockey games, the fair, and festivals."

Amber is unsure of where the road will take her, but says she is happy where she is now. She shared the best part of her job: "Just being able to do what I love every day and seeing the people I support being happy. Knowing that by helping the people I support complete the daily activities that most people take for granted every day is so rewarding."

Finally, these words of advice were shared for those interested in the field: "VOLUNTEER. Get a volunteer position working with people who have disabilities. I volunteered at a day program in my hometown before I started at Fanshawe. I also think it is very important to keep an open mind. With this career there are many places you can work. For example, a group home, the school board, or a day program; and you may be surprised where you like and don't like to work."

Finding the Fire Within: Carolyn’s Story

As gathered by WorkStory Ambassador, Karli Steen

Carolyn Herrmans' path has taken her many different places. She had always seen herself as an optometrist; until a job shadowing left her tired and unfulfilled: "I did a Grade 10 job shadow at my optometrist’s office and thought it was a total bore. I could barely stay awake. I think a light switch went off in my head one day. I saw a fire and thought ‘This is it. This is what I'm meant to do.’ I haven't looked back since and don't ever plan on it."

 Carolyn went in blazing, on the path to becoming a firefighter. She initially wanted to be a smoke-jumper, which would put her right in the middle of the fight against forest fires. To do this, she went to Portage College in Lac La Biche, Alberta to take her Wildland Initial Attack Certification. She has continued to blaze her trail by taking courses in Orangeville at the Ontario Fire Academy, which led to further testing in Richmond, Texas.

I asked Carolyn to outline both training processes and one thing was clear; they were both humbling experience! She had this to say about her time in Alberta: "We did a lot of field experience. We'd get in a huge van and they'd take us deep in the woods. They dropped us off with a compass and a partner and made us try to find out way out of the woods. For testing we had to do a circuit. With a big pack on our back full of hose, we'd run 100m, empty handed and back and then run again with a motor that we would put in the water to suck it up and send out the hose. That thing was heavy. Over 100 lbs. We also lifted weights in our circuit. It wasn't overly hard but it was challenging for sure. I learned a lot about weather and wind. Different types of forestry and what to do when caught in bad situations. It was an amazing experience.  While I was out there the Slave Lake fire of 2011 was going on. Such a humbling experience. So many people gave what they could. I was sitting in the Edmonton bus terminal and a man with a guitar and a bag of apples was sitting there. That's literally all he had left. I gave him a hug."

 Regarding her experience in Texas, Carolyn told me: "I worked with 5 Americans and 4 Canadians - all male. For me, that pushes me to do my best. My two instructors were ex NFL players. The guy that owned the school created it because a couple years before he was called out to a fire. He ran out of air during that fire and called a mayday. He somehow survived that fire for over 30 minutes with no air. He literally is a miracle. So this school is meant to put us in bad situations and we're to get out of them. It included being trapped in a room at temperatures over 900 degrees and fully engulfed in smoke (hay smoke so it's not very harmful). We had to take our regulators out of our mask (the device that sends air to our mask) and last for 10 seconds. I panicked and ran for the door.  We hit the floor and sucked the air off it. We also did a man down scenario --  350 lb  man who needed to get out a window! They ran us until we almost puked. They pushed us to the breaking point. When we did a live fire we were pushed so hard I don't even remember coming out of the building. I came to in full bunker gear in a horse trough full of water and ice. It was back breaking for sure. But totally worth it. I have the upmost respect for everyone in this line of work. It showed me who I want to be and shaped me into who I am today. I wouldn't be as confident or strong without those instructors."

Carolyn further described how the same leader who pushed her limits, also pushed her forward: "He would get in my face and start screaming 'We don't want you here. You're a girl. Nobody's gonna hire a girl'. He's screaming this at me while I lift a 60 lb baby (a big metal dumbbell) over my head more than 200 times while in full gear. He'd scream at us all day long. He knew how to push my buttons. He knew how to make me feel like I wanted this more than anything in the world. Essentially I found the fire in me and I found who I was as a person. And I love helping people." 

As Carolyn continues to follow the path of firefighting, she works as both a patient transfer assistant for Voyageur and a waitress at the Keg. She is not deterred by the extra work, as she is helping others in all the positions. She takes a little from every experience, and applies it to everyday life. She hopes that what she learns will help her achieve the ultimate goal of becoming a HAZMAT specialist.

For anyone interested in following the path of a firefighter, Carolyn had this to say: "it's tough. If you think you're going to get a job right out of school think again. I'm going on my 3rd year and I'm still trying. It's expensive – at a minimum, $200 to apply to each fire department. It's tough but stay true to who you are. Do it for you. Don't do it because of the "glory" aspect of the job. There's nothing glorious about it. It's tough and dirty and I love it. I can't wait to sit there and hear that tone go off. And to feel the rush of my first fire and first save! Get all the training you can. Stand out from everyone else. Be yourself." 

 

Multiple Jobs, Pieced Together by Passion: Anna-Lise Trudell’s Story

As told to Elyse Trudell, WorkStory Ambassador

Like many of our generation, I have multiple jobs going at the moment, most in the field I am passionate about—the non-profit, violence against women sector. I feel as though it is a process of piecing together one’s career. It’s not about finding it and landing it, but about taking on different opportunities, be they jobs or volunteer positions. Many opportunities, all pieced together, can make up the equivalent of a full time job—helping you to build a name for yourself in your sector, and garner the experience you need.

I am currently the Program Coordinator of ‘Girls Creating Change’, at the Sexual Assault Centre London. Girls Creating Change is our girls’ violence prevention group, where we focus on building a girl’s sense of self-worth, empowerment and a sense of themselves as change makers. The girls meet once a week with facilitators, for a hangout and discussion time on: 

• gender identity and what it means to be a woman

• self-esteem, boundaries and being assertive

• healthy sexuality

• violence, self-harm and bullying

• agency, leadership and taking action (http://sacl.ca/youth/relationships-plus/)

In this position, I am part PR rep, selling the program to the girls and to community organizations; I am part manager, overseeing a staff of 3 facilitators and multiple volunteers; I am a program developer, partnering with research institutes to help support ongoing research on girls’ programming; and, I’m a fundraiser, grant-writing and budget managing to support Girls Creating Change. Most of these skill sets weren’t taught to me in school---I had to learn them as I went.

I’m also the Project Coordinator for the Coalition Assisting Trafficked Individuals. I’ve coordinated the development and implementation of a training program aimed at addressing human trafficking for over 300 front line staff in our region, writing and publishing a 60 page manual, facilitating 25 training sessions, and co-chairing monthly Coalition meetings where I have developed workplans and responded to over 20 bosses around the table. As is the case for the position with Girls Creating Change, I did not learn these skill sets---financial management, work plan and project development, specific facilitation models---in school. So what did my schooling help me with?

I did an undergrad in Honours Specialization Political Science and Minor in Women’s Studies at Western University. I loved political advocacy, and was drawn to issues facing women. But I hadn’t the slightest idea what this degree could lead me to in terms of a career…..and so I opted for grad school, doing a Master’s of Public Administration at the University of Ottawa. This program appealed to me because it seemed to have a practical application, you learned how government agencies functioned, how a public servant went about supporting government programs, and there was an internship component to the program. This internship was a great opportunity for me, as it led me to be a political staffer on Parliament Hill for one year--a phenomenal experience in political advocacy!

But I missed learning, I missed being surrounded by like-minded individuals pursuing gender issues. And so I returned to school, to do a PhD in Women’s Studies at Western University. I started volunteering at the Sexual Assault Centre London during my second year of the PhD. This volunteer position eventually led me to making the connections I needed to land my jobs with Girls Creating Change and the Coalition Assisting Trafficked Individuals. Both combine my interest and love for policy and programming, along with a focus on gender and social justice. And by making these connections, but seeking out mentors in the women who have been in the field longer than me, I have the fortuitous chance to partner my PhD research with the Girls Creating Change program.

I can’t claim to have masterminded a linear path to where I am today---it is rather haphazard. That is my biggest take away from my story, that we don’t need to know exactly what we ‘want to be’, and have a specific game-plan in mind to get there. Make connections, foster mentor relationships with those whose careers you admire, and be patient.

Business Liaison at Youth Opportunities Unlimited

I love my job! No doubt about it. While all career opportunities have their ups and downs this job has been great thus far. I am approaching almost 10 months with the organization and no one day is the same. I am a front line work with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (http://www.you.ca/ ) in London, Canada.  I work in Career Services to help youth secure employment.

I work with a number of employers in our community to Job Develop. On a typical day I can be meeting with clients and employers to discuss possible opportunities. With clients, I help to develop their resumes, find an area of interest and do job searching. With employers, I meet to find out their needs, suitable candidates and discuss other ways that we can work together for the benefit of our youth. As well, I network in the community to be a face of the organization and let them know the great things that YOU has to offer.

The best part of my job is witnessing a youth and their excitement over getting a job. It is a rewarding feeling! I love the staff here at YOU as we are all working together for the betterment of youth in our community. We have existed for over 30 years and have been able to really make our mark in this community. It is great being able to branch out to the community, share our message and really pound the pavement.

I think that I got this job because I have tried to make a face for myself in the community. I have worked with a number of organizations through previous employment and volunteer opportunities to branch out and network. I have dedicated myself to working with non-profit organizations to focus on a delivery of service and partnerships that can be mutually beneficial to those that we serve in our community.

I have a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Criminology with a Post-Graduate in Corporate Communications and Public Relations. As well, I am a Board member for the Pride London Festival and a committee member with the London Diversity and Race Relations Committee. I attend a number of community events and really see the value in organizations like Emerging Leaders.

My biggest piece of advice.... GET OUT THERE! Meeting people in your community, network, volunteer and show what you're passionate about. I think most jobs are not found in a posting but in the relationships that we build with others. How great would it be if an employer recognized your name before you even went for an interview! It truly is the ultimate advantage. I'd also recommend to keep learning and always try new things.

It is always good to keep your ear to the ground and find out what is happening locally. Read the paper, check local news and see what’s happening in your community. Knowledge of your area and your industry will go a long way in helping you to answer tough questions and be prepared.    Good luck!

Chad Callandar