“When I relive the moments I’ve shared with the Virginia Park Community Centre I feel so humbled & honoured in my soul. Knowing there are genuine, good hearted humans in small communities like mine that care for the people astounds me. Growing up in a townhouse that I was suppose to call home where I would witness domestic violence almost every single day, can really create an impact on a youths life. Imagine walking home from the VP Elementary school up to the days of getting off the big yellow school bus from St. Paul’s Junior High school and being a kid that’s afraid to open up their own front door because you don’t want to see someone hurting your own mother. The people in the Virginia Park Community Centre created a place where I could be a youth, grow, learn, laugh, meet new friends and most importantly not have to shut my eyes to the world. Through creating my own music and talking about my past I’ve learned to honour, respect and love the boy I was and the man I’m becoming. Some of the kids I grew up with moved on to steal, hurt people and even sell drugs, instead of following them I chose a different path and decided to sell my own music. Since then I’ve released my own cd called “PRESSPLAY” with my name “PlayPyro” on my very own websitePlayPyro.ca. Anyone who has ever witnessed domestic violence, lost a loved one, lived with depression or even grew up with a single parent can listen and not feel alone. I continue to better my life everyday because the boy I was deserves a future better than his past and the Virginia Park Community Centre played a major role in creating a safe & nurturing environment for him to grow into the most amazing person he can be.
With much love & gratitude
From the boy you helped grow to the man you now know – Mario Cheeseman”
Meet Ms.Melanie Noseworthy
“The Virginia Park Community Centre has been a significant part of my life since a young age and my experiences there have significantly contributed to the person I am today. As a toddler, I attended the preschool program at the Virginia Park Community Centre and continued to participate in various programs while I attended Virginia Park Elementary School. As a teenager, I continued to take part in both volunteer and job opportunities at the community centre. I spent time volunteering with the preschool program , working as a camp counsellor and facilitator of the Homework Haven tutoring program. All of these opportunities significantly helped shaped me as a person and helped guide me towards what I wanted to do in my life. My love for working with children and youth motivated me to pursue a degree in Education which I obtained in 2009. I spent 7 years working as an Elementary School Teacher at Virginia Park Elementary and a number of other schools in the St. John’s area. In 2012, I wanted to further my education and pursue a Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology. I chose to take this path as it would allow me to further help a wide range of individuals facing a number of different challenges. As part of this program, I was offered an internship at the Calgary Counselling Centre where I currently work as a therapist for a variety of individuals in the Calgary area. I have always been motivated to help others and to make a difference in my community. I truly believe that this is something that was instilled in me from a very early age from my experiences at the Virginia Park Community Centre. ”
Mr. Dennis Chipman
“The Virginia Park Community Centre as a Beacon of Hope…
The Virginia Park Community Centre has been a place of salvation, renewal and strength for me. I started participating at the Centre at the age of 11 in 1987. The Centre was a place where I could learn, grow and develop into a great kid. Mr. Paul Lahey was the Executive Director and he and his staff provided excellent social, educational and recreation programming to the community of Virginia Park. Through these programs, I started gaining more and more confidence as a youth and I started believing in myself. The possibilities were endless, although I always thought something good was going to happen to me…
My relationship with Paul Lahey was one of respect, admiration and gratitude. Paul taught me a great deal about how to be a leader. I was always interested in gaining more knowledge about programs, and became extensively involved as a volunteer with the Centre. Paul also gave me leadership ventures and seen the best in me. The Virginia Park Community Centre had become a place where relationships became strong, and it was a stepping stone for better things to come. I was given opportunities to excel and I did it. I was determined that I too could make a difference like my mentor Paul Lahey. Paul Lahey had taught me to be engaged and experience all that I could to become better.
I am a firm believer that no matter what your social demographic is, “you” can make a difference. The Virginia Park Community Centre was that difference in my life. The Centre is a grass roots facility that promotes positive opportunities for the community. I took full advantage of these opportunities. I was a participant as a youth, a recreation leader, and a board of director’s member. I saw all dimensions of how a recreation centre operates.
Sport and recreation is important and key for youth. It teaches them life skills that carry on into adulthood. It teaches them respect, discipline and being a team player. I learned all of this through participating in softball, hockey, outings, other sports and activities with the Centre. The teenager years are identity forming…I had positive constructive things to do and that helped me understand who I was and what I could accomplish. Some of my most treasured memories as a youth are playing sports and winning championships. It was a great feeling to win a championship representing The Virginia Park Community Centre. Through sport and recreation and I had a lot of friends from all over St. John’s and beyond. These relationships and bonds have lasted a lifetime.
A pivotal year in my life was 1988-89. I was twelve years old and was going through some personal and academic struggles. I attended grade seven at MacDonald Drive Junior High School and found that year just too much to handle, thus failed the academic year. I think I just passed two courses, physical education and home economics. Well, I was good at sports and recreation and I could cook a little…lol. However, my failure was a turning point in my life. My parents weren’t hard on me and understood fully why I had failed. I changed schools and attended St. Paul’s Elementary School. I worked extremely hard in St. Paul’s and my school work became my focus. The Centre became more of an outlet for me.
Grade nine was my best academic year; I achieved first class honours with an average of 92 and obtained a Citizenship Award. I went to Holy Heart of Mary Regional High School and achieved second class honours in grade twelve. As a result, I worked hard, learned about myself, and was determined to succeed. I turned my failure inside out and succeeded. I never gave up.
Also, I had branched out into the community and worked/volunteered with The Salvation Army Glenbrook Lodge Nursing Home. Here, I met Janet Martin, Recreation Director and Susan Cross, Recreation Therapist. They also provided me with leadership opportunities and experiences that I hold dear to my heart. I knew I had a passion for people, the personality and skill set to pursue recreation as a profession. Janet and Susan encouraged me to enroll into the Community Recreation Leadership Program at then Cabot College-(The College of the North Atlantic). I did enroll and loved the program. A year after college, I was employed with Eastern Health at the Janeway Children’s Hospital.
I thought it would benefit me to further my education and I enrolled into Memorial University of Newfoundland and took the Bachelor of Recreation Degree Program with a Business Minor. I had more academic success in university. I was on the director’s list for academic achievement during a semester at MUN. I believe education is a lifetime investment and a ticket to a successful life.
While working at the Janeway Children’s Hospital I attended University. It was great! I worked there for five years as a Recreation Therapist (causal employee) and had experience working in the Rehabilitation, Surgery, Psychiatry and Oncology Units. I cherished the children and staff of the Janeway. I think of them often. Then, I had an opportunity to work at the Dr. L.A. Miller Centre and the Caribou Veterans Memorial Pavilion as Recreation Therapist. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the elderly population. Again each opportunity is a stepping stone leading to something better…
In October 2004, my life would change dramatically. Laura and I left our beloved province, Newfoundland and Labrador and sought a better life in Nova Scotia. I gained employment with the Pictou County Health Authority as Recreation Director for the Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital-Northumberland Veterans Unit in Pictou, Nova Scotia. I have been working there ever since.
I have developed a strong reputation in the community of Pictou County. As one who knows me, I have a great relationship with everyone and take great pride in my work. It’s a privilege and an honour to be with Veterans who served our country. I know I am making a difference and what a rewarding experience it is. During my tenure, I have met some fascinating people, including the Premier of Nova Scotia, John Hamm, Consulate General of the Netherlands, Fred DeBruin, Gen. Rick Hillier, Hon. Peter MacKay, and Alan Doyle to name a few.
The most important part of my success is my wife, Laura and my two children Paige and Luke. I am truly blessed to have such a supportive wife and love of family. Also, my mother Linda and father Levi, sisters Charlene and Tammy who always believed I could achieve success. They were very supportive of everything I pursued. My mother Linda deserves special mentioning because she is everything to me. My successes are her successes.
My friends Corey Chipman, Andy Mahoney, Marcus Hann, Brad Marsh, Chad Mitchell, Gerry Evoy, Darryl Power and Rodney King were a tremendous positive influence in my life. If one has great friends, one becomes like them.
When I thought of success and what it meant as a youth, I think of the great poem by Waldo Emerson:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
As a child and teenager with humble beginnings; I wanted to work hard and make the world a better place for myself and others. Along with many hockey posters, I had this poem taped to my bedroom wall and always aspired to accomplishing it. When I read each line today, I believe I have done each and thus succeeded.
The Virginia Park Community Centre has played an instrumental role in the person I am today. I am not done yet and the best is still yet to come…I would encourage parents to sign up or enlist their kids into community centres or recreation programs because it gives kids an opportunity to grow and become better citizens. I would like to tell youth that your beginning is not your end and you can accomplish your goals with education, determination and hard work. The Virginia Park Community Centre gives kids hope and prosperity for a better future. The staff members of The Virginia Park Community Centre do exceptional work and should be commended as they are true ambassadors for a better tomorrow. Thank you.”
Meet Mr. Jeremy Dixon!!
“I have been involved with the Virginia Park Community Center ever since pre-school with Mrs. Ruth. From there on in I made connections with friends that would last a lifetime. This is a place that children, teens, even adults can come to socialize, grow and develop. It is a close-knit community where everyone is accepted and everyone gets along.
During my time with the VPCC I was involved with just about every program they had to offer. Whether it was the after school program, day camp, or the summer drop in program me and my friends would be there every day. I also had a love for sports. I can’t count how many hours were spent on a softball field during my teenage years thanks to the VPCC for having such a good softball program and of course the Kenny Meyers Tournament. When the time came to finish up the program (too old), I wasn’t quite ready to give it up yet. So I applied for a summer camp job. It was a pleasure to work every day and give back to the community that put so much time in for my friends and me. The VPCC gave me an opportunity to mentor the next generation of children from Virginia Park. Because of my love for the job, I realized I would like to make a career from this. I decided to attend Memorial University and get a degree in Physical Education. When that was complete I kept attending Memorial University to obtain a degree in Education. Which brings me to today. Currently I am a teacher at Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. John’s and in my opinion, I have the best job in the world. It’s also a bonus that this is the school that teenagers from Virginia Park are designated to go to! “
Meet Ms. Stephanie Pomeroy
“My name is Stephanie Pomeroy and I began attending programs at the Virginia Park Community Centre in 2000 when I was in grade two. The community centre was a great place to hang out afterschool with friends because there was so much to do. I have fond memories of playing hand hockey, doing my homework in the homework room while waiting for a turn on the computer, and helping prepare the after school snack – I think this was my favourite of them all. Aside from the regular after-school program, the themed parties (e.g. Halloween) were great fun as well. I also enjoyed spending my summers playing various sports and games through the drop-in program. The outings were a highlight, especially swimming at Bowring Park and spending the night at Sunshine camp. I think a large part of why I am still very active today is due to the many experience and opportunities to be active and play through the community centre.
Being able to play softball for the Virginia Park Community Centre was especially important to me. I not only learned how to play the game, but I gained other valuable lessons such as commitment, dedication, heard-work, how to win and how to lose. I went on to compete for the provincial softball team in various Atlantic, Eastern and National championships including Canada Games. All of which would not have been possible if I didn’t start playing at a young age through the community centre.
Although I spent less time in the community centre as I went through Junior High and High School, through the community centre I was able to apply for multiple scholarships. I ended up receiving two separate scholarships from the Fry Family Foundation. I am very grateful for these scholarships as they helped offset the cost of university where I have completed a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry Nutrition and a Masters in Public Health. I am currently working as a Research Assistant in the Faculty of Medicine at MUN.”