Success Stories

The community centre helped my career …

My name is Rachel, and 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.

From a past community member …

My first experience at the Rabbittown Community Centre, was back in the 1980’s. I was so excited to learn that they were offering Christmas Craft Classes, six Saturdays in a row with a small fee to help cover some of the cost of materials. Since then, I have gone on to pursue a career in the Arts. Over the last 25+ years, I always come back! I have returned as a community member participating in many events, such as book clubs, healthy living, and career and employment counseling; as an employee, and as a facilitator of Arts and Crafts Programs.

In life, we all look for connections, a place to learn, grow and explore! Communities where we can fit in, and at the same time find your own individuality. I have moved from the community but for me that place is still the Rabbittown Community Centre!

I love the fact that I’m giving back to the community …

I started attending Buckmaster Circle Community Centre programs back in 1995 when I was just seven years old.  One of my fondest memories is of the breakfast program; I came for the orange juice!  And when I wasn’t able to attend the ladies who served at the breakfast program would send an orange juice to me through my brother.  I was spoiled!

Over the years I was involved in many of the centre’s programs as a participant and when I was old enough, as a volunteer.  I worked hard in school to achieve a high school diploma with honors and went on to post secondary and finished a Criminology Program with an 82 average.  Once again I went back to the Communtiy Centre to do my work term.  It was the best phone call I ever made.  I feel that I learned my strong sense of community through my connection with Buckmaster Circle Community Centre.

I am now the Program Director at Buckmaster Circle Community Centre and I am enjoying it very much.  I love the fact that I am giving back to the community.

A few words from Sarah…

I worked with the Exploits Community Centre for the past 2 years with the Summer Camp. After enjoying my 2 years I decided to do my post-secondary education at CNA for Communality Studies. I grew up on a low income where my mother and I had to depend on others to get by. Because of that I knew the importance of community organizations that help people like me and my mother. I have a Learning Disability as well and I didn’t strive in academic course, like math or science. I always enjoy helping people and giving back where I could. I was good at it and I put smiles on people’s faces. I felt like I belonged in Community Organizations like the Community Centre. Having come from many barriers I feel like I can relate to the people that come into the Community Centre. I am now doing my work term at the Community Centre and I love it.

Working with KJ…

KJ was 6 YEARS OLD at the time.

KJ not only attended our programs faithfully, but he became a symbol for what we are about and what we hope to achieve as we get up each morning to go to work. I am proud to say that KJ never missed a beat, has a spotless criminal record, is a graduate of Corner Brook Regional High and went on to get his degree in Community Studies. I am sure he will be entrenched in helping others for years to come.

We have provided a job for KJ every year since he has been 15 with the only condition that he not only pass school, but commit and be an active student who attended our after school program to ensure he had the tools to succeed.

And succeed he did!

KJ after encouragement from his Community Centre Family (Staff), is about to graduate with his degree in Community Recreation and hence fulfilling a promise we made to him when he was seven years old, and that was that we would be there for him through his high and lows; we even purchased his suit for graduation because that is what community centres do–we see past the symptoms of an at risk child and instead focus on the Outcomes and Potential.

I am as proud of this achievement for KJ as I am sure I will be for my own son…and I don’t say that with ease. I have watched every stage of this child’s life and he considers me to be the brother he never had.  While that may be heavy to most, my staff and I are there for thousands of the most crisis driven and reactive families in our province and that is heavy work that comes with many shared burdens. The KJ’s of our community are the reason we stay and have the passion we have.

Working with Nancy…

The second person I had met that week was a single mom and high school drop out.  Nancy was trying to get her life in order, care for her newborn and attend the Healthy Baby Club at the Centre.

She has completed 3 levels of ABE to complete her high school and get her grade 12 and with much determination went on to Get her Degree in Education.  Nancy is now Teaching Adult Basic Education for our Community Centre and has since won NL Literacy awards for her achievements.

Like KJ we are extremely proud and much more complete as a staff having tenants who have overcome adversity and have forged a partnership for life with the centre in there efforts to be successful contributors to society.

Both KJ and Nancy are our greatest brand when it comes to what we do and what the potential is for each and every tenant, its all a matter of determination and attitude.

Lilly’s new lease on life …

Lilly began the Employment Transitions Program on January 16, 2014. From the start Lilly was engaged in the program and was able to share with us her experience of raising two children while dealing with mental illness.

Lilly has been a single parent for most of her children’s lives and with her youngest nearing the end of his high school years, she knew that she needed to transition back into the workforce to set an example for her children. She decided that the Employment Transitions Program would be a good place for her to start.

While she was enrolled in the Employment Transitions Program, Lilly realized not only did she have the skills she needed to go back to work, she had a new found attitude. Lilly began delivering resumes, on a daily basis to businesses in the Marystown area. It was no surprise at all when she got not only one job offer, but three!

She feels that the Employment Transitions Program gave her a new lease on life, she is no longer fearful of her future. To quote Lilly: “Completing the Employment Transitions Program has been the most rewarding accomplishment of my life ; it gave me back my life.” Her family and friends have seen a remarkable change in her attitude and self-confidence . She is embracing her life and is very eager to move forward to see what will happen next.

Eileen shares her skills and experiences  …

“I am a single mom of 4 children and have faced many challenges, however, I did enrolled in the Community Studies Program at the College of The North Atlantic Grand Falls Windsor and graduated in June 2006. In May 2008, I completed the Bachelor of Arts Community Studies in Cape Breton (distance). While studying, I began working as Program Coordinator at the Exploits Community Centre(ECC) on a Graduated Employment Grant in October 2007.   I am still employed at ECC but I am currently the Skills Educator/Employment Facilitator and I have seen tremendous growth in our community centre. I enjoy working with people of all ages and hope to continue to offer my skills and life experiences to develop and enhance programs and services to our target population.”

I can’t explain how much that place meant to me …

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.

The centre helped me pursue my dreams …

I am very thankful for the Exploits Community Centre as it has helped change my life in so any ways.

“Growing-up I was the youngest child of 8 children; 2 girls and 6 boys, one of which had Muscular Dystrophy, Epilepsy, and was paralyzed an one side due to a stroke he had suffered when he was a baby from a medication that was prescribed for him that was too strong. My father, who was 65 when I was born, was diagnosed with cancer a month prior to my birth and was unable to work. My mother who solely cared for us all had no time to work outside the home. We faced many challenges with the only income being my father’s Old Age Security cheque once a month.

My brothers and sister had all left home by the time I started high school, and it was left to me to help care for my father and brother. My father (whose cancer had gone into remission and had come back with a vengeance) passed away just days after my 16th birthday. I was Devastated. I quit school and stayed home to look after my mother and brother. I had returned several times but never completed all my course credits to officially graduate. I had no ambition to further my education.

It had always been my dream to be a missionary, to help others in any way I could, especially children. After many years of working various jobs I became involved in home care. I worked with clients of all ages. Working with these people helped me realize that I did not need to travel to a third world country to help people in need–there were many people in my own back yard. This realization led me to the decision to further my education.

In 2012 I was accepted to college to complete my high school equivalency, from there I went on to do a two year Child and Youth Care course; at the end of my first semester I was diagnosed with Endometrial Cancer and had surgery to remove it. Determined not to give up, and with the support of my friends, I never missed a beat. I was back at school for the first day of our second semester and carried on.

It was at this time that my life started to take a turn for the better. My college class was invited for a tour of the Exploits Community Centre and an overview of the programs they offered. I was so impressed with the centre that I began volunteering my time with various programs and projects that they offered. Over the period of two years the centre participants, staff and other volunteers became like family to me. I not only volunteered, but my children and I took part in various programs they had offered.

“The center helped me gain the confidence I needed to pursue my dreams. It has been one of the best decisions of my life to accept a position with the Exploits Community as I am currently employed as their full time Child and Youth Care Worker. Since I have taken this position I no longer work, for what I do every day is not a job, it’s a pleasure. I look forward to waking up every day, helping the youth, encouraging them, watching them grow into strong independent individuals, helping them realize that with anything the sky is the limit and to never- never let go of their dreams

Tyler’s achievements …

Tyler has been taking part in recreational activities since he was a young boy and to this day continues to take advantage of the services offered through the Smallwood Crescent Community  Centre, particularly the Youth  Outreach  Information Coordinator.

Tyler graduated High School in June of 2011 and was trying to find his place in this world with regards to a career. He visited the Youth Outreach Office a number oftimes and developed a resume to which he gained employment. However, he wasn’t satisfied with his choices and decided he would return to post-secondary school and receive a trade. Through the guidance of the Youth Outreach Coordinator, appointments were made and he was enrolled in the Steamfitter/ Pipefitter Program at Keyin College, Burin Campus.

In December 2013 he not only graduated from his program at the top of his class but received a Certificate of Achievement in recognition for outstanding achievement and contributions to the program. We are very proud to announce that Tyler recently secured employment at the local Kiewit Offshore Services Facility  in Marystown.

I have accomplished things I never thought I’d do …

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 a 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.

Coady’s path to success …

Coady is a true example that determination can get you everything you dream of. Coady has been actively involved in the activities and programs at the Smallwood Crescent Community Centre as well as his younger siblings for many years. Hence, when the Community Centre first applied for the Conservation Corps, Green Team in 2012, he applied immediately and gained his position on the Green Team. Coady always believed in keeping the grounds in your neighborhood clean and safe so this was his perfect summer job .

Throughout his eight weeks on the Green Team, Coady learned a lot of valuable information through research that was required to present to different community groups including those of young children at the Smallwood Crescent Community Centre. Information such as recycling, planting trees,wildlife, and the importance of a clean water supply. All of which were communicated to the children on a daily bases. In turn, while carrying out their various duties around the vicinity,the children also took part in cleaning up their neighborhood and continue to do so today.

Once his summer position was complete, Coady went on to post-secondary schooling and received a trade in Steamfitter/Pipefitter where he holds a full time position with Ledcor in Alberta.

The caring and sense of protection was obvious …

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.”