A tough reality provides motivation
By Kerri Irvin-Ross, Chief Executive Officer
Winnipeg and the province are filled with the excitement of the success of the Jets. GO JETS GO!
This week my education continued as I met with current and past team members, learning more about their experiences and their vision for MYS. The consistent theme that I heard loud and clear was loyalty amongst team members and dedication to serving Manitoba families.
When I started working at MYS I decided I should walk to work. I am happy to say that I accomplished that three times last week. It was enlightening as I walked through a community I thought I knew, passing by homeless people asleep on benches, by a church, and under the bridge. The harsh realities faced by others in our community hit home as I saw people surrounded by all their personal belongings in shopping carts or scattered on the cold ground. My first instinct was to run home to get pillows and blankets to somehow comfort them. These realities motivate me to work even harder towards better outcomes for our youth.
As I walked home at the end of my day, I was greeted by DJ, who I have visited often in the Village. As usual, he first asked for money and then told me about his recent attempts to find work and challenges with his family. Talking to community members like DJ make me determined to ensure the youth we serve are given all the opportunities, support, and skills to be successful adults.
I met with a group of youth who are transitioning towards independence with the MYS Housing First supports. We gathered together to enjoy stir-fried chicken and share information about the services that are available to them as they continue on their journey. They shared stories about the challenges of the child welfare system—inconsistent policies, hard-to-reach social workers, fears of aging out of care, and the stress of attending school and needing to work. They also proudly spoke about their homes and shared their dreams of an independent future. I was so pleased to find volunteers who expressed an interest in sitting on the MYS Youth Council. I am looking forward to hearing their vision and suggestions for improving services for our Manitoba youth.
I had the privilege to attend the graduation for the Child and Youth Care Program from Red River College (RRC). It was wonderful to see the number of MYS team members that gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates and to thank RRC for their commitment to helping ensure we continue to have an educated and skilled workforce, dedicated to serving our youth. The Macdonald Youth Services Award was given to first year students, Dineen Rainka and Brittany Joseph, for successfully completing their first year, a promise to begin second year in the fall, and for representing the MYS motto “Building Better Tomorrows.” Congratulations Dineen and Brittany!
MYS team members met with officials from the General Child and Family Services Authority of Winnipeg to develop a plan for the transition of one of our youth. I was so impressed to see the two organizations collaborating to ensure the best possible services will be provided. The problem solving was outstanding and resulted in a very realistic plan that will ensure the best interest of this youth. I look forward to have further meetings with key stakeholders to collectively address the needs of families and youth in Manitoba.
I am so pleased that I can be a part of the continuum of services as we help our youth build the foundation they will need to succeed. The issues facing youth are complex but with the supports of MYS, other agencies, and the determination of our youth, I am confident these issues can be overcome and our youth will move into a future filled with opportunities.