Erica Jones started her position at YWCA Metro Vancouver as Administrator and Sustainment Coach at WorkBC Midtown this past June, but this was not Erica’s first connection to the YWCA. In fact, Erica has a long-standing and special relationship with our organization. One she was kind enough to share with us:
What is your history with the YWCA Metro Vancouver?
It started when I was very young, around four or five years old.
My dad was going to law school at UBC and working two jobs and my mother was doing 12-hour shifts as a nurse, so they found the Y and that there were all kinds of opportunities for kids there.
It was the old location downtown (Dunsmuir and Burrard), and that’s where I learned to swim and I loved it! I loved all the other kids. In the summer, my parents had to work so they sent me to the summer camps every year at the Y.
Back then, the girls were separated from the boys so my cousin, who I grew up with like a brother, had to go to the YMCA and he went to Camp Elephant Stone, while I did the YWCA summer camps in the Okanagan. Each year we would look for Ogopogo and we would camp out for hours on end, roasting marshmallows and waiting for Ogopogo, who never did show up [laughs].
Tell us a core memory of your time attending the YWCA as a child.
I was extremely shy, beyond belief and the YWCA staff were very aware of that and really helped me to come out of my shell, and I always appreciated learning how to swim at the Y. When I went to summer camp, I remember so many children being homesick and crying, and I never was! I loved everybody at the Y, it was a home away from home. These were core memories during my formative years, as I attended the Y about three days a week until I entered high school. I would still occasionally pop in for a swim every now and then after.
Why did you decide to participate in the YWCA Job Futures 55+ program?
I heard about the program through being on the mailing list and receiving updates about the YWCA Metro Vancouver. I had never been out of a job in my life, so I had no idea how to navigate a job search, but when I saw the Job Futures 55+ program I said, "I fit the bill!” I had previously worked for a women-focused nonprofit and unfortunately when COVID hit the company had to be dissolved, which is when my job search started.
Job Futures 55+ made a huge difference, I can’t say enough about it. It gives you such confidence and makes you realize you’re not alone in the journey. I stayed in contact with the cohort I was in, the 2021 group, and to this day we still have our Job Futures group and meet twice a month. We just help and support each other. One of our group members has just lost her job, so we’re all rallying behind her and keeping our eyes out.
Why were you drawn to the YWCA as an employer?
I kept in touch with the Job Futures people and my case manager; I had a really great case manager. I came into the centre quite a bit to use the resource room and I started feeling like I was really at home here. I used to joke around with them saying “You gotta let me know when something comes up!” Sure enough, something came up, it was a great fit and I haven’t looked back!