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I want our communities to thrive as much as the people that join this program, and even though our work may seem small, I know we are making a difference.
Tell us about your role in your community or where you work
I am a program manager for Vancity’s Community Investment department, where I am responsible for advancing the credit unions’ Newcomers initiative. I have been with Vancity for the past 19 years, and my previous role was program manager of the financial literacy program. I have helped train Vancity staff to become volunteers for the Each One, Teach One program, and helped with the launch of the national program in 2016. Because I believe in financial empowerment, I continue to be a volunteer of the program. I work closely with various organizations in the community, such as settlement agencies, recovery centres, transition homes for women, and many more, trying to find ways on how we can better serve our community members.
Tell us a story about a time you brought people together to improve your community.
Every year I bring together a group of our staff to train to volunteer for our program. They get a chance to listen from our community partners, learn how our program is helping their clients, and provide feedback as to how to present to diverse groups. They then go out into our communities to facilitate workshops, and not only are the participants gaining knowledge, but also our staff. Our staff become more involved in their communities in ways that they might have not been able to do so otherwise. We are being invited to places where we might need a confidentiality agreement, where there might be people going through tough financial circumstances, etc. They get to see first hand how sharing their knowledge can make a difference. It helps us (including me) grow both professionally and personally.
What challenges in your community or the world are you trying to address?
The gap of financial literacy in our communities. We know there is a great need to address this issue, and even the government has added a financial literacy component to the school curriculums in Canada (different for each province). We know there is a need for some newcomers to Canada so they can navigate our banking system correctly, especially when it comes to using credit.
What do you want to learn in this program? How will you use that in your work?
I am very excited to collaborate with the other students and find ways to make our goals a reality together. I want to learn to use all of the tools we will be provided, and learn as much as I can from such a varied group of instructors. I am currently working with the Community Investment department, under the Economic Inclusion team, and whatever learnings I acquire will only enhance the impact we are already creating in our communities.