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Community youth worker profiles

Learn about the community youth workers who encourage the development of young peoples' strengths and skills at Park Board community centres in Vancouver.

 Champlain Heights and Sunset are currently vacant.

 

Britannia - Tom

Britannia - Tom

Tom's bio is coming soon.

Email: tom.higashio@vancouver.ca

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Douglas Park - Starla

Douglas Park - Starla

Starla’s interest in youth work began when she was in high school and spent time at the local drop-in youth centre by her school. 

At the youth centre, she learned about caring adults, peer relationships, and being involved with her community. The important relationships, many laughs, and heart to heart conversations are what inspired her to become a youth worker today. 

Growing up in New Westminster, Starla attended New Westminster Secondary School and later attended Purpose Alternate School. 

Her enjoyment in her career is watching the resilience and inspiration that the kids in the community have. 

Email: starla.bayley@vancouver.ca

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Dunbar - Gogo

Dunbar - Gogo

As a youth worker, every day is different and every new experience brings new ideas and perspectives on youth work. 

The biggest challenge Gogo has had to overcome as a youth worker was saying goodbye to all of the youth at one site to create new connections and opportunities for youth at another site. 

If Gogo won the lottery she would build a state of the art fitness centre and let all youth lift for free. 

Email: gogo.lalli@vancouver.ca

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Hastings - Eric

Hastings - Eric

Eric feels that connecting with youth through recreation is simply the best job. 

Growing up, Eric was always around community centres in Vancouver for swimming, classes, and volunteering. 

After high school, he became a day camp leader at the West End Community Centre. Before settling into his current position at Hastings Community Centre, Eric worked at:

  • Coal Harbour Community Centre
  • Riley Park Community Centre
  • Vancouver School Board
  • Victoria YMCA

Eric has traveled to:

  • Costa Rica
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Nicaragua
  • Thailand

Eric’s most exciting trip was to India. Not only was he able to travel and see the vast differences from the north to the south of the country, he was able to be part of his best friend’s wedding.

Email: eric.yu@vancouver.ca

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Hillcrest - J.J.

Hillcrest - J.J.

As a youth worker, J.J. enjoys connecting with youth and finding out what their passions are. He believes that we all have different things that excite us in life. 

In his free time he enjoys being in nature with trees, rushing water, and fresh air. 

He attended Pitt Meadows Secondary where he worked on the yearbook and school newspaper. His very first job was at a corn maze, working as a guide. 

J.J. hopes that his fellow youth workers would describe him as a goofy person who cares a lot. 

Email: jon.johnson@vancouver.ca

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Kensington - David

Kensington - David

David finds being a youth worker challenging, fun, and rewarding.

He was fortunate to start his youth work career in the same neighbourhood that he grew up in, Strathcona. He worked at Strathcona Community Centre for 15 years and was able to do outreach at the schools he went to.

In high school, David was involved in:

  • Volleyball teams
  • Basketball teams
  • Boys service club
  • Referee and score-keeping club
  • Student Council

He is a big proponent of youth getting involved with school and community and he strives hard to provide and lead youth programs which will help youth to be healthier, happier, and more effective.

Email: david.ng@vancouver.ca

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Killarney - Josh

Killarney - Josh

Josh enjoys connecting with youth who are involved in their community in various ways. 

Growing up in New Zealand, he was supported by strong family relationships and developed a love for outdoor activities.

Throughout high school and university, Josh was involved in student surfing and snowboarding organisations which helped keep him on track academically and socially. 

Email: josh.hensman@vancouver.ca

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Marpole-Oakridge - Annty

Marpole-Oakridge - Annty

Annty enjoys relationship building and supporting youth in their development. She enjoys connecting with youth with a variety of skills and knowledge.

She gets involved in organizing events and fundraisers. As a youth worker, she has had the opportunity to participate in:

  • Dragon boating
  • Camping
  • Snowboarding
  • Surfing

Annty is originally from El Salvador and speaks Spanish. She grew up in southeast Vancouver and graduated from Killarney Secondary School.

Email: anntuaneth.figueroa@vancouver.ca

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Mount Pleasant - Rosa

Mount Pleasant - Rosa

Rosa has been a community youth worker for 13 years. 

Her favourite moments are:

  • Camping at Camp Sasamat and being thrown in the lake by chanting youth
  • Playing indoor soccer
  • Dancing to Latin music with new immigrant youth

Find her at Mount Pleasant and challenge her to a game of pool.

Email: rosa.aravena@vancouver.ca

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Ray-Cam - Alex

Ray-Cam - Alex

Alex is in his 17th year working with Ray-Cam Community Centre as a youth worker mainly with aboriginal and immigrant youth on the Downtown Eastside. 

Staff at Ray-Cam follow a relationship-based model of youth work and try to work with the whole family where possible. 

Alex oversees:

  • Child protection case management
  • Advocacy
  • Promotion of social inclusion 

He also spearheaded the award winning Never Again Steal Karz (NASKARZ) Program in partnership with Vancouver Police and Vancouver Community College.  

Email: alex.vasiljevic@vancouver.ca

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Renfrew - Lynsey

Renfrew - Lynsey

Lynsey loves being a youth worker because of the spontaneous and unique interactions and conversations she has daily with youth.

Her first job was working at Purdy’s Chocolates as she discovered long ago her passion for chocolate.

The most exciting place Lynsey has ever been is Edinburgh, Scotland. She lived in Edinburgh for a year and ate haggis daily: haggis pizza, haggis nachos, and haggis sushi. 

Email: lynsey.macdonald@vancouver.ca

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Roundhouse - Diana

Roundhouse - Diana

Diana likes that young people question the world and their place within it; they come up with new questions, new ideas, and solutions. Young people drive change and she feels inspired by that. 

She has a huge amount of empathy for the challenges young people are dealing with. She always aims to encourage and support youth to understand and act on the personal, social, political and/or economic issues which affect their lives and the lives of others. 

If she won the lottery, Diana would create an arts studio, set up a co-op with her friends who are community artists and youth workers, and run a collaborative arts drop-in with youth.

Diana loves reading, research and policy analysis, riding motorbikes, and being in nature.

Email: diana.guenther@vancouver.ca

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Strathcona - Sally

Strathcona - Sally

"Do what you love and love what you do” is Sally's mantra. She feels so lucky to go to work every day and be inspired by some of the most amazing youth in the city.

Sally has done a lot travelling, from conquering the Inca Trail in Peru to going to school in New Zealand. She calls it “experiential learning”. Travelling is the only thing you buy that will make you richer. 

Sally knew she wanted to be a youth worker when she started hanging out at Killarney Community Centre as a tennager. After volunteering and helping out in the community she got her first job at the community centre as a program leader.  Volunteering at the community centre taught her to work hard, be compassionate, and never give up on her dreams.

Email: sally.chan@vancouver.ca

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Thunderbird - Matt

Thunderbird - Matt

Matt’s favorite part about being a youth worker is getting to mentor and teach youth new skills. 

He attended Killarney Secondary School and was always inspired by his youth worker. He strives to be equally inspiring to the youth he works with each day. 

Matt is also passionate about music. In his late teens he was the lead singer in the local boy band “Matt About You.” 

Email: matthew.charan@vancouver.ca

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Trout Lake - Bernie

Trout Lake - Bernie

Bernie firmly believes that youth should and deserve a chance to get involved in their communities. When youth are making a difference in their communities they need to be getting the praise and recognition that they deserve. 

As a youth worker, Bernie advocates in the community for youth. He helps them take opportunities to make a difference. 

Growing up, he attended both Gladstone Secondary and Kitsilano Secondary schools. 

His first job was at McDonald’s. This company taught him about teamwork, leadership, communication, and customer service.

His hobbies include playing all types of sports but soccer is his favourite.

Email: bernie.dionne@vancouver.ca

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West End, Coal Harbour - Jodi

West End, Coal Harbour - Jodi

To Jodi, being a youth worker means she wakes up every day excited to go to work. She will go to bat for you, chat with you, laugh with you, and support you. You are in fact, the reason she comes to work. 

At 15, Jodi was scouted to back-catch in Alberta’s Softball Provincials. She ranked second in the overall scout and her team came in second last.

As a music lover, Jodi used to interview bands and write reviews for a magazine and occasionally she still does.

She believes laughing should be a part of everyday learning because humour is a useful tool.

Email: jodi.gibson@vancouver.ca

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