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Eugene: A NYCH Success Story

Eugene came to Canada from the Philippines in 2014, and joined our Employment program to get support in his job search. We asked him about his experience at NYCH – the obstacles he had to overcome, what he learned, and his plans for the future.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced upon arriving in Canada? 

A: The first struggle that we faced here was, “where do we start?” I mean, this is a new country; new everything. I don’t have a job. I don’t have family or relatives. I don’t have anything.

And then, when searching for a job, it was so frustrating because they always asked me about ‘Canadian experience’. I was a senior accountant…but when I came here it was so hard…they didn’t accept me. They were always telling me, “you need Canadian experience”; “your education must be upgraded”; “you education must be evaluated.”

Q: Which NYCH program did you join?

A: The program that I was involved with at NYCH was about Employment – which was the best that I could have. This is my struggle, about employment, and this is the help that NYCH gave to me – how to prepare yourself for the interview, making a resume, etc.

Q: What did you gain through NYCH programs?

A: I gained a lot at NYCH – but I want to specify about how I “gained myself”. Of all the struggles I’ve been through, NYCH pushed me to be a better person, to be strong enough, to face the struggles that I’ve been through.

I’m proud of being one of the people that NYCH helped. Because it helped a lot to know that this struggle is not a struggle – it is a part of who we are in the future. It is a part of our goal. I landed here in Canada for my dream to be successful – but the road to success is not an easy road. So this is the best thing that North York Community House gave to me. To learn how to be stronger – to achieve your goal even when the struggle is there. I’m proud of it.

Q: Is there an experience at NYCH that stands out in your memory?

A: The best memory is when they opened their doors, and they opened their arms, and they said, “we can help you.” I felt like I was in my home. Because the Philippines is very, very far away from here – and this community is like a home.

Q: What are your plans/goals for the future?

Eugene, NYCH participant

A: My goal is to raise up my family. To give a better future for my children. Because as time goes by, this is the best country that we can raise our children for bright futures. 

I know this country is growing, so my goal is also to add some [pauses]... If they need my talent to be a part of the growth of this country or this community, I will share my talent. 

Then, the most important thing is how you are as a person. So, my goal is to be a better person…to help people, to give back what I got before. Just to give back.



Dragana's Yoga Story

By Dragana Despotovic, Happy Aging

My experience with North York Community House has been life-changing. Seriously. I am not exaggerating this at all. 

I moved to Toronto two years ago from Serbia. A month after I landed, I applied to become a NYCH volunteer. At a volunteer orientation session, I learned that there was a need for chair yoga instructors for seniors. As I was freshly graduated from Yoga Academy this was a perfect opportunity for me to refine my English, meet new people in a new country, get to know the neighbourhood and possibly find a job in the future. Volunteering gave me all of that and even more.

I fell in love with working with seniors and I fell in love with my job.
Seniors Yoga Session, Imdadul Islamic Center, January 2017

Seniors Yoga Session, Imdadul Islamic Center, January 2017

I started with a small group of seniors at the Action for Neighbourhood Change office in Lotherton. Soon after, the room became filled up with many seniors from the area. Last summer, there were so many yogi seniors that we placed the chairs in front of the building and became a Tuesday attraction in the neighbourhood. We were having so much fun learning not only yoga and meditation but getting to know other cultures, customs, languages, recipes, and traditional dance styles! I fell in love with working with seniors and I fell in love with my job. Inspired by all that good energy, I decided to open my own business: Happy Aging.

Meditation time at Black Creek Community Health Center, March 2017

Meditation time at Black Creek Community Health Center, March 2017

Now, two years after my first Yoga for Seniors session, I can proudly say that I have been working with more than 500 seniors throughout the city. Happy Aging was also a part of NYCH's Newcomer Connections for Senior Caregivers project which has opened many doors for my professional and personal growth.

Even now, with my tight business schedule, I have not stopped coming to Lotherton. 

From my personal experience, I know how moving to another country isn't easy - emotionally, financially, culturally. Undoubtedly, North York Community House played one of the most important roles in making the transition smoother and happier, as well as finding my own professional path in Canada.

It definitely was life-changing!

Thank you North York Community House! Special thanks to Vivienne, Shova and Stephanie - It's been a pleasure working with you! 

Learn more about Happy Aging



Andreina: A NYCH Success Story

Meet Andreina. Originally from Venezuela, she lived in Spain while studying for her MBA - and ultimately, decided to settle in Canada with her husband in March 2016. 

We asked Andreina about her journey as a newcomer to Canada, and how her experience at NYCH has helped her achieve her goals. This is what she had to say:

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced upon arriving in Canada? What were your goals?

A: We came with a lot of dreams but also with fears, because we had never been to Canada before. We didn't know if we were going to like the country, or the weather, and we had savings for few months. Also, we had impressive CVs, but no Canadian experience and we had to improve our English. Our challenge was to find a job related to our professional experience, so we had to adapt our CVs according to the positions we were applying, as well as prepare ourselves for the interviews.

Q: How did you hear about NYCH? Which programs were you involved in?

We had to improve our English level so we read on the Internet that we should take the CLB test before applying to free ESL courses for newcomers. So, we went to YMCA at the Finch location, and then we met with a representative who recommended NYCH services for newcomers

The following week, we met with Lucy from NYCH and she explained to us all of the options we had available. We decided to enroll in the NYCH Employment Success Workshop with Annie and we went to the English Conversation Circle at North York Central Library. The next month, we also enrolled in the ELT Sales and Marketing Program, as well as the OSLT Entrepreneurship and Marketing Program at George Brown College - following the recommendations we received from Lucy. We were incredibly busy but definitely committed to achieve our goals.

Q: What did you gain through NYCH programs? Which achievements are you most proud of? 

NYCH programs gave us an orientation and the confidence we needed to go forward. They worked along with us on the path we had to follow. Particularly, the NYCH Employment Success Workshop gave us the structure we were looking for to start our job applications. Also, the NYCH English Conversation Circle, as well as the ELT and OSLT courses recommended by NYCH, were key factors to gain confidence with our English level. 

In all of these programs, we could meet other newcomers with similar experiences and goals; we learned how we could transfer our previous professional experience, studies and skills; and we understood the expectations for CVs, cover letters and job interviews to finally get our first jobs in Canada. 

Now, we just had our first anniversary in Canada and we are very proud of what we have achieved so far. All of the support we received and all of the effort we did was worthwhile. In just 6 months after we came to Canada, both of us were working in our professional areas. My husband started working as Business Analyst and I got a job as Digital Account Coordinator. 

Q: Is there a person/program/experience at NYCH that stands out in your memory?

A: We are very grateful for Lucy Santos and Annie Sun from NYCH. They gave us a lot of ideas and recommendations, as well as the next steps we should follow - and it helped to build the confidence we were needing. 

Q: What are your plans/goals for the future?

A: We want to gain more experience and continue improving our English. But now, we are sure that our future is here in Canada.

Learn more about the programs and services NYCH offers to new Canadians




Success Stories from our Culinary Employment Training

When we look at impact, we tend to focus on the immediate results. But, success hardly ever happens overnight. Achieving your goals takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

We've seen this in our own work supporting newcomers as they build new lives in Canada. We are continually learning, adapting and growing in an effort to provide the best possible means for their success.

Several years ago, we began a social enterprise with our Delightfully Yours Catering Services. Through this initiative, we provided newcomer women with training, workshops, and one-on-one coaching aimed at helping them find meaningful employment in the food industry. 

While Delightfully Yours closed a few years later, the work we did still had a positive effect. For the participants who were part of this venture, their experiences were part of a longer journey towards success - one that goes beyond the walls of NYCH.



Kinnari was in our first group of Culinary Employment Trainees. She received hands-on training through the Delightfully Yours Catering Services, obtained her Food Handler Certification, and was able to get advice on furthering her culinary education and starting a career in the food service industry.  

Today, Kinnari (together with her husband, Mitesh) is the owner and operator of barBURRITO - fresh Mexican GrillTheir restaurant is located at 50 Market Street in Brantford (just an hour drive from Toronto).





Gloria and Cecilia were also part of our Culinary Employment Training; with a similar path through our social purpose catering company. They earned their Food Handler Certifications and gained a strong understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Now, both women are running their own South American food stalls at the Toronto Weston Flea MarketThe market is located at 404 Old Weston Road, and is open on Saturdays and Sundays. 

We are incredibly proud of Kinnari, Gloria and Cecilia for their passion and drive. Their achievements remind us that we too are on a journey - and through the missteps, obstacles and changes in direction, our commitment to the success of newcomers is what keeps us going. 


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IMPACT: Settlement in Schools & Libraries

Imagine you've just moved to Canada from another country: you need to look for a place to live, find a job, learn how to get around, and if you have kids, enroll them in a nearby school...and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

This is the start of your new life. 

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