“I originally started off as a cook, attending taking the culinary arts program at NSCC right out of high school, but after a year, I decided that it wasn’t the lifestyle for me. I started Mount Saint Vincent University’s Family Studies program, but then switched gears again to their Child and Youth Program. With each switch, I knew I was getting closer and closer to where I wanted to be and to finding a job that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
“As a part of the Child and Youth program, we had to complete work placements. I wanted to find a place that fit my values and mirror the way I wanted to work with youth. I take a strength-based perspective towards youth - youth have it in them already. I wanted to help move them forward in life.
“So I decided to try Phoenix and see what it was like. I did my placement at the Shelter and I absolutely loved it. My love for youth work took me by surprise and I was sad when my placement ended. This was when my career aspirations switched to wanting to working with youth.
“My placement supervisor let me know after my placement that Phoenix was hiring so I immediately applied. When I got the job, I was still in school. I worked overnights at the shelter so that I could continue my studies. I kept this up for six months. I was exhausted, but it was a good learning experience.
“I’m lucky. I really, really enjoy my job.
“The Youth Outreach Program came about a couple years ago. If I could pick the perfect job, this would be it. It’s a healthy combination of what I liked about all of my other jobs. I’m independent, I work one-on-one with youth, and I’m out on the road (we go all the way out to Sheet Harbour and Musquodobit). My job is based on what the youth want. They set the goals, not me, so every day is different. Some days, I’m out trying to find someone housing. Sometimes I can be helping out with a crisis or working with a young parent and their child or assisting them in a job search. This job is about being engaged and building relationships.
“I went to Dreamscape last year and the youth who was speaking was the first youth I worked with when I was at Phoenix House. Now he has aged out of Phoenix, grown up and has a cool perspective on his time here. It was neat to see him, now as a grown man, to get on the stage and speak about Phoenix. Sometimes we tend to forget about the big picture while doing the work every day. This reminded me of the impact Phoenix can have on the lives of these youth.
“Phoenix youth are capable, resilient and strong. Youth have all the skills already - we help bring those out of them and support them throughout their journey in life. We don’t do it for them, we do it with them. That’s the perspective I take on my work.
“We see youth when they’re down and when they’re happy. We watch them overcome barriers. We watch them change and grow stronger. Being able to witness this has changed me as a person and helps keep my life in perspective.”
Alana’s first employment shift was on Christmas day, 2006. She has worked at worked at Phoenix Youth Shelter, Phoenix House and is currently with our Youth Outreach Program.