After months of term-positions and scrambling for help, the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre now has a full-time permanent program co-ordinator in the person of Clarissa Neyando.
“It’s not just for youth, she’ll be doing programs for everyone” said executive director Sharon Pekok. “It’s much easier with a co-ordinator, they can run the programming, but they’re also making more connections in the community.”
This will not be Neyando’s first time taking over such a position, having worked at the youth centre in Inuvik for five years before moving to Hay River. She said that while sometimes the hours and a young family can be hard to juggle, she knows and loves the work, and her two oldest children can come to the activities themselves.
“It’s community based,” she said. “I’m a people person, so interacting with families and kids is what I enjoy. I love learning from other people and I think this way we’re all benefiting from each other.”
Neyando did say that being relatively new to the community has made the first days on the job hard, just in terms of getting the right people on the phone to contribute to programming. She is, however, confident she will learn quickly and that people will be willing to pitch in and help.
“One thing I love is working with elders and youth,” she said. “They need to interact more to bridge that gap between them.”
To that end, Neyando said she wanted to plan sessions in which elders can come and tell stories to young people about their own lives as well as older stories about how things used to be.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know more people,” she said. “It keeps me busy, but really it’s to keep the youth, the pre-teens, busy. That’s really important.”
As usual, the centre will be ramping up its programming in the coming season with the addition of two summer students to its ranks, but Pekok said she regular programming will start before school ends and continue into the fall.
“This year we have core funding and program funding and money from lots of different sources,” she said. “We want to be doing programs for people (aged) zero to 100 plus and now we have someone to run those programs.”