“Our youth have so many hidden talents, come from so many different backgrounds and sometimes it’s surprising to learn where they’ve come from, where they’ve been and see what they bring to the Shelter. Some are musically-talented, some are artistic, some are sporty, some are geeky. It’s all incredible.
“When I was a dance teacher I took over a school of 250 dancers, ages 2-16. The school I had danced in was very competitive and this sister school was more recreational. We choreographed a very challenging dance for them and they performed it at a competition. They ended up coming in third overall in the province! No one had set the bar high for them like this before, and it was a very proud moment to watch them all accomplish this challenge with confidence and love! It’s amazing that by believing in them and setting the bar where I did, when I did, a difference was made. It was a really big lesson and moment for me.
“I didn’t even know about Phoenix when I first got placed here. To be honest, I wasn’t super happy about it because I was ignorant to the fact that Phoenix’s shelter isn’t anything like what you would see on TV. Once I got here and saw how engaged staff could be with the youth, I knew that this is where I needed to be.
“There are over twenty characteristics of a youth care work. One of my favourites is ‘hanging in and hanging out’ which means just being present with the youth in their safe spaces and being a part of their day-to-day. When they finally let you in - that’s pretty special. Caring for the youth and building those relationships gets me into work every day. A lot of us joke about how when we are scheduled off work, we are always wondering “what’s happening?” and “how’s the day going?”. When I’m not here, I want to be checking in and to be with them.
“I ran into a former youth in the community and they started telling me about how good they’re doing now. They have their own home, they’re not using anymore and they have a great job with the city. It made me so happy to hear how well things are for them, but it was also the simple fact that they took time out of their day to come share their story with me – that made the moment really special.
"Looking back over my five years here, I’ve definitely become more socially aware, empathic and confident. I think a lot of that comes from working with this population, but also the staff team. As a staff, we come from different backgrounds and bring so many unique experiences to the table. I’ve learned so much that I honestly had no idea about before Phoenix."
Katie has been working with Phoenix since July 2012.
Before she was hired, Katie also completed a student placement here as part of her Child and Youth Care program with NSCC.