Last week, we had an opportunity to chat with Joya Evans and ask her about her experiences as both a staff member and previous participant in our Children’s After School Program.
Joya is full of life, positive and she was a pleasure to chat with. We are extremely lucky to have her as a member of JPRA’s After School Program staff.
Here’s what she had to say!
What was your first encounter with the Jack Purcell Recreation Association? Who first got you involved?
Joya: “I didn’t start in the After School Program . . . all of my friends went and this really inspired me to want to go. . . . My friends talked about how fantastic and fun it was, so I had to go! As a kid, you want to interact in a nice venue. . . It was convenient as Jack Purcell is in downtown Ottawa.”
How old were you when you first came to JPRA?
Joya: “I was between 8 and 9. It was always a good influence coming to JPRA. . . from the After School staff and the community itself.”
What is it like now to work at JPRA as a counsellor and to see other staff such as Sarah, who worked here when you were a participant in the program, and who is still here [and now General Manager]?
Joya: “. . ., we gravitated towards Sarah and looked at her in awe! Seeing her progress from counsellor, to Children’s Program [Coordinator], and now General Manager is awesome! . . . I can relate that experience to myself now.”
When you attended JPRA’s After School Program, did you think you would one day become a counsellor?
Joya: “We all wanted that purple shirt with ‘Staff” on the back, and I wanted to have a strong [influence] in kids’ lives. It’s odd being a counsellor now, as I had hopes to be in this position. And my goal came true! It’s rewarding and a special feeling. I feel as if it was a subconscious decision made when I was younger and I am happy to see it through.”
Do you think having counsellors, who impacted your life as a child, is what pushed you to work in child care?
Joya: “Absolutely! Seeing staff who are generous, kind and happy, really influences a child. Going years [with] the same group of kids, you know how impacted they were by staff here. . . . I want to be able to give a small portion of that back to the kids and I want that for myself.”
How else do you think the counsellors at JPRA influenced you today?
Joya: “. . . . The counsellors make the atmosphere. It makes a huge difference having counsellors who help you see what [it can be like being a] little older. . . .it made me ask myself if I [could] have the same experience. . . interacting with adults. . .who are a little younger but old enough to be your counsellor. As a kid, we are changing a lot. To have a counsellor who can help shape you at that age is fantastic!”
Do you have any connections or friends that you are still in contact with today that you met through our Children’s Program?
Joya: “Yes, absolutely! It’s kinda funny actually. . . . I will see people at sporting events and around the city and it’s like ‘Hey! They went to JP with me!’ We all branched out but those connections are there.”
Do you think a community centre is a vital part of your life as a child?
Joya: “If you don’t have these options at. . . home, you can come to JP and interact and make new friends, and discover yourself. It is a safe place. I feel comfortable and that is so crucial to kids, as kids don’t want to be isolated. As a person who is older, I think JP helped me interact better and create relationships with people . . . .”
What are your aspirations for the future, Joya?
Joya: “. . . I love . . .especially being here working with kids. I’d like to do that for forever if I can. I love volunteering and helping the community. So no matter what I am doing, I want that to be a part of my life and schedule. It’s important to me and it’s rewarding. I am interested in so many different things. I love people, I love interacting with people, I want to work with the community. Kids are the future, so being able to influence them and show them another perspective and how to view things is amazing. I want to impact kids positively.
We look forward to working with Joya. Stay tuned for more interviews, testimonies, and little blurbs from our community members!