One of the highlights of our Annual General Meeting is when we celebrate one of our long-serving Job Developers – John Bennett, by recognizing two youth in his honour. This year, Stefano and Willow demonstrated the kind of spirit and dedication John was known for, as they have worked hard to overcome challenges and obstacles and be successful in journeys.
We had an opportunity to speak with Willow.
“It feels great! I'm very grateful to have been chosen,” said Willow when we asked her how she felt about being selected for the award.
Willow completed the Youth Job Connection (YJC) Program, working closely with Alejandra, one of our Job Coaches. Her dream was to be a barista while saving money to go to college to become a nurse. Willow identifies as belonging to the LGTBQ community and as aboriginal, and overcame many challenges, obstacles and discrimination to accomplish her goal.
She did not have prior work experience when she joined the program. With the support from our YJC program staff, Willow successfully completed her placement and is now a full-time student in a nursing program. “The YJC program gave me the momentum I needed to gain job experience and advance in my career. The staff at St. Stephen's provided me with so many opportunities, and so much support both materially and emotionally,” Willow wrote, adding, “Special thanks to Alana and Alejandra for their continued support.”
Our team chose Willow because she is extremely determined, hardworking, enthusiastic, and for her inspiring positive attitude. As for her plans for the future, Willow says, “My goals are to focus on my studies just as much, if not harder than I was before.”
John Bennett worked at our Employment & Training Centre for over a decade supporting youth in their career journeys as a Job Developer. He believed passionately in the future of our participants and worked hard to find them meaningful work. Sadly John lost his battle with cancer in the fall of 2012.