My First Holiday Season with Phoenix

Reflection by Staff Member Mark McIntosh, Community Engagement Coordinator

The winter holidays are truly the most wonderful time of the year. They are filled with excitement, spending time with family and friends, and most importantly, a time to share love, compassion, and kindness. This past December, was my very first holiday season with Phoenix and I experienced, first-hand the kindness and generosity of our community coming together to make the holidays a little bit brighter for our youth and their families.

I remember my excitement when I arrived at Phoenix Centre for Youth to assist volunteers with stuffing stockings. The room was filled with boxes of items generously donated by individuals, businesses and other organizations in our community. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, busting in anticipation to see what was in each and every box. Volunteers worked to ensure each stocking was stuffed with care with necessities, such as warm clothes and personal care items, as well as a few treats. Over a period of three evenings, our dear friends from the Canadian Progress Club Halifax Cornwallis, Time + Space Media, and RBC filled over 130 stockings to ensure that our youth received an extra special gift!

My excitement continued as we celebrated with our youth and their families at our annual Holiday Youth Party. The Olympic Hall Community Centre was alive with holiday music, youth and families eagerly waiting to capture new holiday memories at the photo booth, enjoy a turkey dinner lovingly prepared by the Antiochian Women, and play games and activities with the Teen SOYO group.  And of course, Santa took time out of his busy schedule to bring gifts. From the smiles and joy on everyone’s faces a great time was had by all.

I was touched by the many staff who make the holidays magical for our youth, especially Lauren Abbott, Phoenix Special Initiatives Coordinator and Kilby McRae, Employment Counsellor, who has organized the Holiday Youth Party and has helped coordinate the stocking stuffing with a smile for many years! These two went above and beyond to make the holidays bright!

As I reflect on my first Christmas with Phoenix, I thank everyone who made this holiday so special, not only for me, but for our youth. Phoenix is so fortunate to have such caring friends who believe that youth matter.