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YMCA wins Top Employer Award for the twelfth time

06 December 2019 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto
What better way to celebrate our 12th  Employer Award than by spotlighting our amazing team? With over 6,000 staff members working to build strong communities and open opportunities for all, we have plenty of inspiring stories to choose from. Today, we’re sharing just two. Staff members Justin and Ivan aren’t only following their dreams; they’re helping other people achieve theirs.

New beginnings

When Justin’s mom brought him to YMCA parent and tot swim classes as an infant, she never imagined he’d eventually work as a lifeguard, compete in an international lifesaving sport festival, or be named Athlete of the Week by CityNews.

Justin was one of our first Junior Lifeguard Club members, joining the program as soon as it started in 2014. The very next year, he was on our competitive lifesaving sport team, the Brampton YMCA Barracudas.

“Growing up at the YMCA, it felt easy to fit in,” says Justin. “I feel like I’m at home here with people I trust the most — people I can turn to if I need anything,” says Justin.

Ivan, on the other hand, discovered the Y when he was in his 40s. It was around 2000 and he’d recently immigrated to Canada from Serbia. He was looking for a place to play basketball, when someone suggested he try the Y. The rest, as they say, is history.

Reflecting back, Ivan feels lucky to have been guided in this direction. His background in physical education lent itself perfectly to the work he does at the Y today as a Health & Fitness Programs Supervisor at the Central YMCA. “Newcomers want to establish themselves in society and that happened for me at the Y.”

Meaningful opportunities

Throughout their journeys with us, Justin and Ivan say they’ve been able to explore many different opportunities.

Through our courses, Justin earned the credentials he needed to work as a lifeguard and swim instructor, including the National Lifeguard Certificate. Beyond opening up job opportunities, he says the courses helped him build all sorts of skills like teamwork and leadership — and they were just plain fun.

Today, Ivan leads recreational sports at the Central Y, including basketball, volleyball, soccer, floor hockey, badminton, and table tennis. He’s a trusted leader who’s always using his expertise to up our game by adding new programs like Pickleball to our roster. Most importantly for him, working at the Y feels different than working at other gyms. With our charity, he gets to give back to his community and mentor people of all ages.

 A bright future

Just last month, Justin headed to the UK to represent Canada in the Royal Lifesaving Society Commonwealth Festival of Lifesaving. It wasn’t only a life-changing opportunity for him; it solidified him as an inspiration for many other young people who dream about following a similar path.

For Ivan, the Y has become more than a job. Here, he’s found community. The members he gets to coach and connect with are just as diverse as the range of sports they show up to play. And Ivan takes pride in using his skills and expertise to keep them motivated and help them achieve their goals.

We can’t wait to see what’s in store for these two inspiring staff members as they continue to grow with us at the Y!

Join a charity where you’re free to be yourself, and encouraged to create that feeling of belonging for your whole community. Check out the 
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