As a contractor for SWOVA, I have very specific tasks laid out that involve project coordination. As the project coordinator for the Respectful Relationships (R+R) program, the Pass It On Program, and for the Online R+R Facilitator’s Training, I need to ensure all the logistics are attended to so the facilitators and mentor supervisor and training moderator can do their jobs as fluidly as possible. Also I establish and maintain positive partnerships with our school district and other community networks, all in an effort to ensure a professional service delivery model.

In truth, the logistics are such a miniscule part of the overall picture. The key ingredients are the passion, and skills, and commitment of those who deliver the programs and invest time with youth on a weekly basis. Therein lies the magic. The circles of safety and trust that are established, where youth often explore controversial topics, share their insecurities and beliefs, and question the norms of society in compassionate and passionate ways. Reciprocally, I am a vicarious recipient in my community of this heartfelt work. I have the pleasure of living on an island with youth who approach and respond to me with respect. I never fear a ‘crowd’ of youth, as I have in the city. I feel my space is respected and my opinions are considered and consequently, I am keenly interested in the perspectives of the youth in my community. By listening and learning from the youth in my community, I have a clearer understanding of their needs thus resulting in a respect for their space and allowing opportunities for expression.

When Pass It On had an evening of celebration at their Sparkfest event, I was struck by the demographics in the room. The performers were female youth in their teens and along the age continuum to women in their 50s. There was an honouring of what each generation had to pass on to the other. There was a collective spirit of mentorship in the room.

It was a magnificent evening. It definitely heightened awareness around Pass It On and other programming provided through SWOVA, the amazing women in our community, and the whole notion of mentorship and what it means to each one of us personally and professionally.

Lynda Laushway, the executive director of SWOVA, has always been very clear that these kinds of events aren’t fundraisers. They are an opportunity to build community awareness. I have no doubt that the community will begin to see SWOVA in an increasingly positive light – as an organization that offers hope and possibility to young women and men.

Chris Gay – Pass It On Coordinator

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