Personal success stories written by past and present community members who have been inspired by the Froude Avenue Community Centre in some way:
Ocean Dawn Gale
I currently live in the Froude Avenue Community Centre area just off of Mundy Pond Road with my family.
I grew up in Lourdes; a small town on the west coast of Newfoundland where I was raised by my grandfather. After I graduated high school in June 2013 I decided I wanted to move to St. John’s so that I could avail of more opportunities. I had never worked growing up because there were only 2 stores in Lourdes and any other employment opportunities were a 45 minute drive away in Stephenville.
When I moved here my Uncle suggested I see Lindsey, the Community Employment Facilitator at the Froude Avenue Community Centre, to help me make a resume so I could look for work. I actually brought my Aunt with me to the appointment because I was so nervous.
I first met Lindsey in February 2014. When we met she helped me get my First Aid certificate so I could expand my resume. We also talked about how I wanted to work with children and become an Early Childhood Educator. She introduced me to Enid, Programs Coordinator at the centre, so that I could volunteer there and get some experience working with kids. She also referred me to the Murphy Centre Skills Link Program and provided me with a bus pass to get to the interview. During this time I was applying for jobs and secured a position at Lawtons in the Avalon Mall. I was employed only a few weeks after my first meeting with Lindsey.
Once I was employed, I still needed help building my self-esteem and I needed to overcome some personal barriers. Lindsey and I met every week or every 2 weeks for a few months and then every now and then. During this time she helped me get a drug card. I had been attending Zumba classes at the Mews Centre close to my house as a stress reliever all along. Once I realized Lindsey also taught Zumba close by I started to attend her classes when I could. I developed a passion for fitness and the positive energy I got from attending classes. I decided to take the training to become an instructor myself, which Lindsey supported me in. She encouraged me to apply to a position with the City of St. John’s when it was posted. She helped me with the application and started to let me train with her and assist teaching her classes. Lindsey was a reference for me and I got the position!
I’m currently still employed with Lawtons, and now I’m happy to say I am also an employee with the City of St. John’s as a Zumba Fitness Instructor Wednesday evenings.
I think having Lindsey as a role model was very important in my journey. It was such a help to have someone help guide me along the way. Since first meeting her at the Froude Avenue Community Centre in February 2014, I feel like a new person. People have actually told me how much more confident I am. I feel like I’ve grown a lot and accomplished a lot of things I never thought I would do and I’m very proud of myself.
Not bad for a girl from Lourdes.
Ocean Dawn Gale
19 years old
Froude Avenue Community Centre Volunteer, City of St. John’s Zumba Instructor.
Being part of the Froude Avenue Community Centre family was a huge turning point in my life.
We felt we were there to support people regardless of their situation and personal history. The Centre Manager, Bob Dawson, encouraged us to give everything we have to the residents in terms of programming and understanding. I had to first learn to slow my quickness to judge and to stop putting people and their behavior into categories. People were people. They like me, were full of strength and flaws. Our job was to help them believe in their strengths and to confront their flaws. In order to do that, the staff had to first do that for themselves. So in getting prepared to help others we all ended up helping ourselves get better too.
I have so many great stories about my time there. One of my favourites is the time we took 12 teens and their parents to Toronto to get them out of their environment and open up their eyes to the world. Myself, Bob, an RNC Constable, and some parents accompanied these teens to Toronto for a few days. These kids got to go to have fun at the Easton Centre, a Toronto Maple Leafs game, and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Besides the fun we wanted to let them experience true homelessness. We brought them to a homeless shelter and had them volunteer to serve breakfast and talk to the individuals who were staying at the shelter. It was amazing to see the kids reactions and how generous they were to those that were in need. The kids all wrote journals and said they learned so much from the trip and namely that they appreciated what they had in terms of their families and current living situation. I still look back with pride on that trip and the impact it made.
My second favourite story is the MAPS (Making a Personal Statement) Retreat the we did for another group of teens. We partnered with the City of St. John’s and brought 20 kids to a camp for the weekend and wanted them to examine their decisions in life. We had them look at the lyrics to music and discuss what it meant to them. We performed a mock talk show with teen issues that was both funny and serious. A speaker came in to talk about addiction, someone else who had trouble with the law spoke about decision making and consequences. There were tons of traditional camp activities too but we really wanted these kids to pull back from their lives and realize that they decided their destiny. Their “neighbourhood” was not a crutch for destructive behavior. A resident named Kevin Whiteway talked about how he lost his brother to drugs and it absolutely leveled the room. To have a respected member of the community who is living the right way empty his heart in front of those kids was one of the greatest things I have ever witnessed.
The third story that I tell often is one evening I was at the centre and went upstairs to photo copy something. I heard voices up in the homework room which was odd because all the kids had left an hour ago so I was curious to see who it was. I opened the door and heard our Educational Coordinator, Ed Wade, and another man’s voice. The man was slowly reading a children’s book and Ed was encouraging and assisting him. I later discovered that this man knew that we had educational programming at the centre and due to the consistency of what we provided and the relationships that Ed had made in the community, this man now felt strong enough and safe enough to approach Ed to ask if he could teach him to read. This man in his late 50’s or early 60’s said he finally wanted to learn how to read so he could read bedtime stories to his granddaughter. It was another moment that reinforced our purpose at the centre. It was amazing
courage to see in action and I truly believe it wouldn’t have happened if the centre hadn’t been there.
So, I can’t express enough how much that place meant to me. I cried like a baby when I left because I knew I was leaving something special. The Froude Avenue Community Centre accepts people for who they are and work hard to help them reach their goals. The residents trust that place and the staff who work there. To see some of the kids who came through those doors go on to have their own families and tell me about the great times they had there is an incredible feeling. They describe how they kind of grew up in that place but what they might not realize is that I did too.
Froude Avenue Community Centre has definitely made a huge contribution to my career. I was provided with a junior level and entry level scholarship which helped me fund my college tuition for the Legal Administrative Assistant Program at CNA. I have also been in many programs with the community centre during my school years which gave me great opportunities to add to my resume, such as volunteering with the after school program. I also worked as a summer day camp counselor for a few years which was also good experience to add to my resume. Overall, the Froude Avenue Community Centre and the staff and volunteers have made me in to the successful, hard working person I am today by providing me with experience and support to make it where I am today.
Past resident, employee, volunteer, etc.
Currently a Legal Assistant
When I was growing up as a young child outside of the city, everyone took care of everyone else. Anyone older was called “Aunt” or “Uncle” and there was a sense of protection and care by anyone older. The older ones were always close by, could call us all by named and would let our parents know if we did something that we should not.
When I grew up and moved into the city, it all changed. The language that I did not have as a child, I now had to learn. Words like “community” and “neighbourhood” were foreign to me.
In 1989, I was invited by two very good friends, Mary Hicks and Marg Coombs, to be a part of a community centre-new vocabulary to me. But, as I was working in a school nearby, I agreed to their request. This agreement was a tipping point in my life.
The centre was generally referred to as “the house on the corner.” Except for the sign, it didn’t stand out externally. What happened inside the house was what made the difference.
It so reminded me of growing up as a child. The caring and sense of protection were obvious from the first time I went through the door.
People came and went. Nobody knocked on the door. The level of comfort was like home.
I have had a lot of opportunities to come back to the “house on the corner” as a worker, a volunteer or just to drop in.
I still feel the same sense of protection that the children and teenagers have when they come through the door.
My association with the centre goes back to 1989. My first foray into the centre was an exciting and interesting one. I still feel that sense of excitement and interest each time I go there.
I thank the workers, the volunteers, the people in the neighbourhood for what they have brought to my life. I know so much more now and I have a greater understanding of neighbourhood and community because of “the house on the corner.”
Retired Educational Consultant and School Administrator