NS has demonstrated unconditional love and support to those around her, specifically her two young daughters. NS’s desire to provide a stable and loving home for her daughters during these challenging times was how she connected with the Threshold’s program in October 2020. Although NS faced a lot of ups and downs, her determination and her unwavering love for her children gave her the strength to bounce back stronger than before. While in the Threshold’s program, NS participated in programs such as Mom and Baby program and various cultural programs as well as being a very active member of her own cultural community. NS demonstrates a strong passion for achieving and keeping a healthy lifestyle and this is quite obvious through the nutritious meals she makes for her family. NS is a great role model for others who want to live a healthy lifestyle for themselves and their families. NS’s generosity and kindness to everyone around her, including her daughters was demonstrated through her stay in the Threshold’s program. NS was observed by staff, celebrating the achievements and milestones of her daughters by encouraging their growth and instilling confidence in them.
In this past year, we have all had to learn how to adjust to life in a pandemic and NS has turned this experience into an opportunity for growth. When confronted with job loss because of the pandemic, NS chose to use this time to further her education. With help from the Aunt Leah’s SEFFY program, she will be pursuing her education to become a Medical Assistant and plans to attend college in September 2021. NS’s hardworking and caring spirit will make her an ideal candidate for this occupation. After residing in the Threshold’s program for a few months, NS and her two daughters were able to find independent housing through Aunt Leah’s Friendly Landlord Network. We are proud to present the Leah award to NS and she is proof that even the hard times in life are worth celebrating. Our community is better for NS having joined it.
Bruce was a friend and long-time supporter of Aunt Leah’s who passed away on March 6, 2010. It was important to Bruce to be more than a donor. He also gave his time as a volunteer and shared his wisdom, helping Aunt Leah’s in various fundraising endeavours. Bruce was known among his family for giving them his unconditional love and support and was always proud of their achievements.
In Honour of Bruce Ambrose
Emily embraced the Support Link program with a sense of responsibility, respect and compassion. Emily has a creative spirit and possesses an unwavering willingness to learn. In the short 9 months that Emily was in the Support Link program, she set and achieved many goals and was able to reach out for support when needed. In the last year, Emily graduated from high school and attained her driver’s license. Emily spent a great deal of time with her Support Workers developing skills and participating in recreational activities facilitated by the Support Link Program. Emily participated and completed the “Ready to rent” course to support her in the search of securing safe housing and ensuring she understood her rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
In 2020, Emily completed the Aunt Leah’s Place Bootstraps Retail Training program and continues to participate in programming to further develop her employment skills. Emily maintains a strong sense of self and is forging a path to adulthood that is representative of her values while staying true to herself. In recent months, Emily moved onto independence and is working towards applying to Post Secondary education to passionately pursue a career in the beauty and spa industry. We celebrate Emily and her success as she looks to the future and continues to follow her bliss.
The Jeremy Wright Award was created to honour the memory of Jeremy Wright, a Support Worker, who was very special to the organization. The award is to recognize and support a Support Link youth with goals that they have set and are actively working towards. It is presented to a youth living in the Support Link Program who has strived to achieve their personal best and who most “follows their bliss.”
In Honour of Jeremy Wright
Cynthia Kollie is a woman that represents the traits of the Rona award everyday: her strength, compassion and kindness are unrelenting. Cynthia joined the SEFFY and Bootstraps Program in 2019 and despite being severely set back by the COVID-19 pandemic through education, employment and personal health, Cynthia continuously demonstrates the incredible willingness to garner the strength and mental fortitude to continue her education and find means of employment.
Cynthia has greatly enjoyed being part of the Bootstraps online retail training where she has gained valuable skills, particularly with online marketing. Cynthia’s desire is to start her own business; contributing to her community with the mission of ‘wanting women to feel comfortable in their own skin.’ Cynthia does not hesitate to share her kindness with women within the community who wish to have an opportunity for a makeover. Some of the women may not have the means to pay for such services, but Cynthia is willing to bypass that and make their ‘make-up’ desires come true.
Cynthia is the perfect example of ‘preaching what you practice.’ She is comfortable in her own skin and wants to share that with others. Cynthia’s ability to have love, kindness and compassion within herself allows her to share that with the broader community. After completing her training at Blanche MacDonald in July 2021, Cynthia hopes to venture out to start her own business. Cynthia’s training experiences from the retail training program will only further enhance her ability to set foot in the beauty industry. Cynthia definitely encompasses a key Aunt Leah’s core values, in which she exemplifies entrepreneurial spirit in hope of building herself and community.
This award is presented in honour of Rona Castagnier, a long time co-worker and friend of Aunt Leah’s Place. Rona was a very strong, kind, compassionate and proud person. Rona wouldn’t hesitate to give someone her last dollar if they were in need, even if it meant that she would go without. In honour of Rona, Aunt Leah’s gives an annual award and bursary to a participant from one of Aunt Leah’s Training Programs who has shown the characteristics that Rona appreciated the most.
In Honour of Rona Castagnier
In 2017, Nargis Rezaie joined the SEFFY program at Aunt Leah’s Place, and Aunt Leah’s has since been with Nargis on her journey to pursue education. This summer, Nargis will graduate from South Hill Education Centre in Vancouver, and will be starting her studies in Business Administration with Langara College in the fall; her ultimate goal is to become an accountant. We are confident that Nargis will meet her future goal, as she is undeniably tenacious, resourceful, and hardworking.
Nargis would look into different resources to obtain what she needs or wants; this can be in a form of signing up for tutoring to improve her grades or joining a sewing social club to start an entrepreneurial interest. When a part-time administrative assistant opportunity arose at Rise Women’s Legal Centre, through connections with Aunt Leah’s Place, Nargis went to the interview fully prepared and engaged, consequently impressing her future employer; Nargis takes full advantage of every opportunities that comes in her way.
Nargis has a propensity to support her fellow peers. For example, when her fellow peers have needed supports, she refers them to programs at Aunt Leah’s Place, then sits with them through the process to act as a translator and as a peer support. Nargis has previously done some volunteer work at a Women’s Shelter, where she feels a sense of pride to be able to contribute to a meaningful and rewarding experience for all involved.
Nargis is a determined, resourceful, kind and caring individual, who also displays a positive attitude and leadership skills. She is a reflection of the spirit of the Champion award, as someone who would find a way to attain their goals, while reaching out to lend their supportive hands to bring up others along the way.
In 2017 Aunt Leah’s community lost a dear friend, Jennifer McFarlane. Jennifer was the Human Resources Coordinator for Aunt Leah’s. Jennifer established connections with everyone at Aunt Leah’s using humour, laughter, thoughtfulness and appreciation. Jennifer loved that her work in Human Resources was part of a mission to work proactively at the ‘entry’ and ‘exit’ points of the foster care system, helping low-income families maintain custody of their children and supporting foster youth aging out of foster care.
Jennifer had a deep appreciation for the community of support established at Aunt Leah’s Place and the services provided. In honour of Jennifer, Aunt Leah’s is providing an annual award to an individual who has been active in championing for positive change for youth and families affected by the foster care system.
In Honour of Jennifer McFarlane