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Get to Know Us

New friends. New passions and skills. A new community. There’s something for YOU at our YMCA of Three Rivers’ Youth Programs. From casual drop-ins to topic specific outreach, our diverse programs are here for you. And, our team of Youth Workers are here to help you as you enroll in programs, get school or employment help, or to just chat. We can’t wait to meet you! 

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Director, Youth Programs

Hi everyone! I’m Melissa, but feel free to call me Mel! I came to work at the Y because I’m passionate about creating opportunities for young people to grow, develop, and thrive. I believe that young people have the ability to shape the future of our communities and world. In my role at the Y, I get to help create opportunities and platforms for youth to share their ideas, build skills, get involved and make change. When I’m not at one of our programs, you can find me hiking, kayaking, and exploring nature at the cottage. I also love travelling, playing baseball or volleyball, skating, and hanging out with my dog, Leo. My favourite movie is Mamma Mia! And, I’m guilty of cranking country tunes. 



Supervisor, Youth Recreation and Wellness

Hey there! I'm Gavin, and no, I don't have any nicknames. I was drawn to the YMCA as a place where I can make a meaningful difference in the lives of youth. I believe in the power of mentorship, community engagement, and fostering a nurturing environment where young individuals can thrive. My favourite book is The Power of One, a powerful story set in South Africa during apartheid. I first read it as a teenager, and have come back to it many times since. As for movies, Shawshank Redemption takes the top spot for me. It's one of the greatest films ever made. When I'm not at the Y, you'll catch me navigating the wonderful chaos of raising my beautiful newborn twins, creating double the laughter, double the joy, and double the chaos in my life! If I could go back and give my younger self some advice, it would be this: Embrace challenges and failures as opportunities for growth, trust your instincts, and be kind to yourself along the journey.

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Supervisor, Newcomer Youth Programs

Hello, my name is Ibtisam, but most of you will know me by Ibti. I came to the Y through the Y newcomer programs. That’s right — I used to be a participant. I stayed because I’m passionate about providing safe and inclusive space for youth — especially minorities — to express their passions, reach their goals, and ultimately, be a role model to our next generation. When I’m not in program connecting with you, you can usually find me playing volleyball, hiking, or painting. I also love travelling, and getting outside to feel the sun on my face! My favourite movie is Aladdin, and my current favourite song is Rjeen ya hawa by Fairouz. If I could go back and tell my younger self something it would be this: Life can be written with a pencil — it doesn’t always have to be written with a pen.  

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Supervisor, Community Youth Initiatives

Hello everyone! I’m Emily. I came to the Y because I’m passionate about supporting young people’s mental, physical, emotional, and social well-being through recreation and wellness programs. I believe that participating in these programs is one of the most powerful avenues to foster youth development, and at the Y I get to help support this happening in safe and inclusive spaces for all youth, as they discover their own potential, build relationships, and strengthen their self-esteem. When I'm not hanging out with youth in our Stratford programs you can find me cooking, painting, playing tennis, watching Friends, playing boardgames, or taking my dog, Cassie, for a walk. I love the movie The Proposal, and did I mention the show Friends yet? As a youth I wish I knew that I didn’t have to have my whole life figured out. Plans will change — and that’s okay. Be present and enjoy each phase of life as it comes.  

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Coordinator, Alternative Suspension (Kitchener)

Hello everyone! My full name is Alicia MacDonald, but everyone calls me Idaho. I got that nickname in the racing world because I was always wandering off. When people asked, "Where's Alicia?" the answer was, "Oh, she's off in Idaho picking potatoes." I came to youth work at the Y because I needed a change in my career, and I wanted to be in an environment that felt authentic to my values. I also wanted to work with a team that shared my goals and beliefs about youth. The Y embodies all of that and more. My favorite book is Living Fully by Mallory Ervin, my favorite movie is Top Gun, and my favorite song is With You I Am by Cody Johnson. When I’m not at the Y, you can find me at a racetrack, demolition derby, or with my dog, Rugger. I cherish spending time with my friends, family, and significant other doing what we love together. If I could give my younger self advice, it would be to ease into the discomfort. Every choice I made or opportunity I missed came from discomfort I couldn’t push past. Now, I push myself to embrace new adventures, hobbies, and opportunities because they lead to growth, curiosity, and excitement. 

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Coordinator, Alternative Suspension (Guelph)

Hello! My name is Jacob, but I have lots of nicknames. These include Yacob, James, Jakey, JJ — just never Jake. I always wanted to work in a job where I could help people, and I landed on youth work because it inspired me the most. As a teenager, I faced some of the biggest struggles of my life, but I also had some of the most fun moments. I thought as a youth worker, I could share in the excitement while supporting youth in my community — a real win-win! I'm not much of a book or movie person, but if I had to choose a favourite, I'd say Lord of the Rings for both. However, I'm really passionate about music. I listen to almost anything, but my favorite genre is indie rock. My favorite song from that genre is Intersection by Modern Baseball. It’s a strange-sounding title and band name, but it’s a beautiful song. When I’m not hanging out at the Y, you can find me out with friends. I love thrifting for clothing or collectibles for my home. I particularly enjoy finding a nice grandpa sweater or something frog-related for my growing trinket collection. If I could give advice to my younger self, I would tell him to say yes to new experiences more. It’s amazing how much you can learn by trying new things and how much you can grow by broadening your perspective. 

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Coordinator, TAPPS and Community Outreach

Hello, everyone, I'm Florencia, but I go by a number of nicknames including Flor, Flo-flo, and Tinkerbell. I’ve always known that I wanted to work with and support youth in my community. Last year, I was lucky enough to do a school placement with the Y, where I got to learn about the amazing programs and services we offered. During my placement I met the staff, who became my role models. I’m so glad to be joining the team in this new role. My all-time favourite book is Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess, and I really enjoyed Gone Girl too. When I’m not working at the Y, I’m usually hanging out with my friends or family, and going for hikes. I also like to dance it out, any chance I get. If I could go back and tell my younger self anything it would be this: Never change — don't lose your sparkle. Trust me.  



Coordinator, Newcomer Youth

Hey everyone! My name is Feden, but you can call me FeFe or Feds. 

My philosophy for life is growth. The more we can grow, the more we can give. I've grown a lot here at the YMCA and still have much more growing to do. I've been lucky enough to learn from many youths, and I love seeing others grow. Any way I can support that growth, I'm here for it.  Choosing just one favourite is tough, so here are three: my favourite book is Atomic Habits by James Clear, my favourite movie is The Dark Knight or No Country for Old Men, and my current favourite song is Fishtown by Cautious Clay. If you ask me in an hour, though, it might be different! I like to try and be creative. Currently, I’m learning how to play the piano and write poetry. When I’m not doing that, I enjoy going for walks in nature and hanging out with my friends. If I could give some advice to my younger self, I’d say love is one of the most beautiful things this world offers. It surrounds us in the smallest of things, but nothing is as pure as the love you have for yourself. So, be your own advocate and romanticize your life. 

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Coordinator, Youth Partnerships & Initiatives

Hi, everyone! I'm Charlotte, but most of you know me as Charlie or Goose. I was drawn to youth work at the Y because I truly believe that everyone deserves to feel like they belong and have a place to call their own. It's incredibly special to be a part of that journey. My Y story began as a camp counselor at Camp Conestogo, and I've been here ever since. When I'm not in programs, you'll likely find me playing sports – hockey, baseball, volleyball – you name it, I love it! Yay, sports! And when I'm in the mood to relax, I'll be binge-watching White Collar, one of my favourites. If you're looking for a movie recommendation, I absolutely adore She's the Man. I also cherish spending time with my family and enjoying the great outdoors with my adorable dog. A piece of advice I wish I knew as a youth is to embrace your uniqueness. Be you, everyone else is already taken.



Coordinator, Youth Recreation and Wellness

Hi everyone, I am Alanson and I surprisingly do not have any nicknames even though there are three syllables in my name. Let me know if you have any nickname recommendations. Since I started as a camp counsellor back in high school, I have been intrigued by circles of people who invest in their local surroundings. Amazing people have invested their time and energy into making me who I am today, and I hope to pass on at least a portion of their impact at the YMCA. I tend to gravitate towards movies that explore the complexities of the human experience whether that is through Christopher Nolan’s Sci-fis, Taika Waititi’s adventure films, or dramas such as This is Us, and Goodwill Hunting. But if I am in the mood for a laid-back laugh, Hot Rod is a super reliable film. The best song ever performed in my honest opinion is Good Love is on the Way by John Mayer. When I am not at the Y, you will usually find me hanging out with my friends and family playing pickleball, spikeball, soccer, swimming, jamming some tunes, or eating some good food. If I could talk to my younger self, I would recommend that he steps outside of his small bubble of people earlier and experience more perspectives/walks of life. Life is much more fulfilling alongside people who think differently than you. Hope to see you around!

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