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Vanna - Dunbar Community Centre

I'm fairly new to the Dunbar Community Centre. I started working here part-time on Valentine’s Day last year and only started working here in June full-time. I'm one of the newest staff members here, but I actually worked at a different community centre before. I'm an East Van girl. I originally went to Gladstone, and the closest community centre there was Trout Lake. I worked there for six years hosting a variety of activities: day camps, leading birthday parties, building things, and more. When I worked there, I was actually in nursing school during the pandemic. Then basically, during the pandemic, they're like, oh, you gotta work during the pandemic or else you're gonna fail. But there was no vaccine at the time and I was starting to lose my passion in the health field.

From a young age, I realized I loved working with youth, especially high school kids. So then, I dropped out of nursing and went to a different institution for child and youth care which is what I'm in right now. My favourite thing about being a youth worker is meeting new youth. We get youth from all over the West Side here—from St. George’s, West Point Grey, Lord Byng, Prince of Wales, and U Hill. Even the preteens from elementary schools come here just to like eat ramen and I have to like boil water for them every day.

It's just nice for everyone to feel safe coming here. I just love talking to the youth and everyone’s so funny. Meeting new youth and talking to them is the best part of my day. I feel like if I didn’t go into this field, I would definitely still be working with young people. This job means a lot to me because I'm still quite young and I'm the youngest full-time staff, not just on the Dunbar team, but like the citywide team out of all the youth workers. I feel that I'm able to kind of like connect with the teens and the youth here a bit better in a way, cause we're still close in age. It means a lot to me when youth are able to come to me to talk about things that I can still kinda relate to.

I run a youth council, and I remember the very first youth council I ran last year was in my office. We were all on the floor or on the couch, and there were only six of us. Those six youth were in the previous youth council before I came along. Now, it’s nice to see our youth council grow up to around 45 people who come every Friday night to learn about community issues, hang out, and gain skills on how to do programming and activities.

It's nice to see all the growth; I always talk to the youth about it. I'm like, oh, remember we only had our first youth council meeting in my office and we were on the floor. And they're like, yeah, yeah. Such old times. But I think that's one of the memorable things. Just comparing last year to this year is just really nice to see the growth of the youth here. So I'm proud. I'm proud.


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