We have lots of exciting things going on at YU North York and just recently finished our 2nd newsletter! Check it out to learn about some updates on our programs, a youth story, and an insight into our new and exciting vision for the future of North York!
For the past year, we’ve been working diligently as a team to create a three-year strategic plan for the YU North York team. It’s done! And we’re celebrating! So, come join us to learn more about our new vision, the plan to fulfill it and the people who will make it happen as God leads it all. We will be celebrating from 6:30 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, April 25th at Spring Garden Church (see invite below). Please email hello [at] yunorthyork [dot] com if you plan on attending!
Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the arts—especially acting. I loved taking on the role of a character and getting lost in being someone else. I was fortunate enough to attend Earl Haig Secondary and be in the Claude Watson Performing Arts Program as a drama major. It was there I realized my deep love to pursue this art form as a career. In my grade 11 year, I decided to get an acting agent and started to audition professionally. Throughout the remainder of high school and my post-secondary years, I auditioned and performed professionally in various film and television roles. The plan was taking flight. So I started to make plans to move to LA after my college graduation.
But in my last year of college, the beginnings of my acting career started to nose dive. The agency I was with started to go under, auditions were diminishing, I was losing confidence in the audition room and sadly I wasn’t enjoying acting anymore. But I didn’t want to let go of something I had done for so long and worked so hard for. I started to get frustrated with God because I thought, “Why he would give me this talent and suddenly close all the windows of opportunity to use it?”. But slowly during that frustrating time, I began to realize I didn’t need to let go of my talents. I needed to surrender them. I needed to invite God on the journey and let Him take over. Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in A Thousand Years says it so well, “I admitted something other than me was showing a better way. And when I did this, I realized the Voice, the Writer who was not me, was tryingto make a better story, a more meaningful series of experiences, I could live through. At first, even though I felt God writing something different, I’d play the scene the way I wanted to. This never worked. It would always have been easier to obey the Writer, the one who knows the story better”.
God does write better stories. For the past three years, He has been revealing His plans for my life in a way I would have never imagined. But when I look back at my story, it makes sense that He has called me to lead Sketch & Believe. Thirteen years ago, my story was just like the story of the girls in my program. I didn’t know how much I was loved by Jesus. I didn’t know He had a great plan for me. It is humbling and touching to know that now God is using me to help them see His love and presence. He is rewriting my story to involve His heart for the broken.
As I lead the Sketch & Believe ministry, I see how God is using all my passions such as missions, youth, the arts and my faith. I am currently acting in a play called the Ultimate Sacrifice with a theater group called Exousia Media. This play tackles many social issues that often plague communities like Jane-Finch. However it delivers a message that the gospel needs to and can reach even the toughest communities. My hope this Spring is to have a benefit performance night in which the proceeds will go to the Sketch & Believe program and Hoop to Hope (another YU program in the Jane- Finch community but for boys). Stay tuned to learn more soon! // Vanessa M
I had to read it twice, just to make sure I had read it right…
“Mr. Jones offered a blunt assessment when he was asked if he could guarantee TCHC properties are safe.
‘No, there’s no neighbourhood that’s safe,” he said. “Why would I say something stupid like that?’”1
My heart sank. Have the leaders of vital institutions in our city lost all hope? Every day here at YU, we work towards safe, nurturing neighbourhoods in the communities we serve. Mr. Jones continued:
“Don’t just keep blaming TCHC to fix everything. We’re not the fixers,” he said. “Social housing is what we’re supposed to provide. Now we’ve got to provide social activities for our youth.”1
Of course, the Broken Window theory popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” suggests the vital importance our environment plays in changing our communities. Broken Windows proposed “that untended disorder and minor offences gave rise to serious crime and urban decay.”2 Jesus put it another way:
“If you’re faithful in small-scale matters, you’ll be faithful with far bigger responsibilities. If you’re crooked in small responsibilities, you’ll be no different in bigger things.” (Luke 16:10, The Voice)
That’s why Stewart, our Community Development Coordinator, worked diligently with our Shoreham Court Animators to advocate on behalf of community residents in this Jane-Finch neighbourhood to have downtrodden, pot-hole-infested paths repaved and long-darkened lights set alight once again. Faithfulness in the small things, we believe, will lead to far bigger transformation in the long-run.
But, in one sense, Mr. Jones is right. It’s not just about improving social housing. But it’s also not just about more social activities for our young people. What we really need are committed men and women who are willing to walk the long road with our youth – to enter into messiness, to choose compassion over judgment, and take a risk by mentoring a young person.
As a YU North York Team, we have committed ourselves to make our programs a welcoming place for caring adults who want to share their journey of faith and success in life with a young person. Please, join us! Let’s create safe neighbourhoods.
Today, we tragically lost one of our youth to gun violence in our community. We are deeply saddened by this loss and are committed to walking through this difficult time with this young man’s family, his friends and the other youth and families whom we serve.
We value our partnership with the Jane-Finch Crisis Support Network during these times. If you are a community member looking for help of any kind, please contact us through the JFCSN - http://jfcsn.yunorthyork.com
Please enjoy YU North York’s first official newsletter!
The Bayview Bike Park Closing Ceremonies were recently held, led by our Revolution(s) team. It was a great time for thanking our youth, partners and the communities for such a successful riding season. Check out this blog posting on IMBA’s website detailing their experience of the day!
Our second annual Christmas gift drive begins tomorrow! Our Shoreham and Driftwood Animators, facilitated by our Community Development Team, have done an amazing job gathering gifts for over 300 children in their community.
This is a wonderful way for resident leaders to bring joy during this Christmas season to their fellow community members.
Here’s a shot of Stewart with the gifts at our space!
At long last, we have heard official word that we set a Guinness World Record on June 16, 2012 for the World’s Largest QR Code. Awesome! It’s a great ending to an event that raised over $25,000 for YU’s work here in North York.
If you were a part of the World’s Largest QR Code event, now’s your chance to get your very own certificate from Guinness showing that you set a World Record! You can get a general certificate ($20), which looks like this: Guinness Certificate or get a personalized one ($30) with your name on it. (Note that this is Guinness’s charge, not YU’s!)
The text on the personalized certificate will read as follows: (YOUR NAME) helped create the largest QR code which was presented, measured and scanned in Toronto, Canada, on 16 June 2012. The QR Code is 2,046.24 m2 (22,025.49 ft2), and was achieved by Youth Unlimited Toronto YFC (Canada).
To order your certificate (again, only if you were involved in the QR Code!), please fill out the following form:
GET YOUR CERTIFICATE!
Registration is closed for this event.
For more information or questions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We continue to be grateful for how the YU North York team continues to be formed together. Look for a re-launch of our vision in the comings weeks! But, we’d like to update you on some shifts in our team:
- This Fall, we said farewell to Scott Guthrie, who has served as a volunteer leader of the “Youth Outreach” Basketball Program in the Jane-Finch community for 18 years. It’s an understatement to say this kind of faithfulness to young people is a rarity these days. Thank you, so much, Scott for your heart of service, deep commitment to young people, and commitment to seeing lives changed in our community.
- Karen Robinson transitioned into a new role. She now serves as the North York Team & Community Pastor! We are excited for this new role as Karen will invest in our staff team, engage volunteers, and take on a few other important projects in the months ahead.
- And finally, a hearty welcome to Clem Lee, who has joined the Revolution(s) program as a Willowdale Community Youth Outreach Worker. Clem will spearhead our “Earn-a-Bike” initiative alongside Jesse James.
Look for our website to be updated soon to reflect these new changes in our team!