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YMCA employment program comes full circle

Woman standing in front of banner

By: Yonatan Kiflu

Jessica Reed is like many of the people who come through the doors of our YMCA Employment Centres. She is a talented person, looking for help with job skills. Thanks to the Y, she received the support she needed to bridge the gap — and now she’s giving back to the program that helped her when she needed it most.

Initially, Jessica had visited the Pickering location’s employment offices because she was asking herself

“Why am I not getting jobs?”

and wasn’t able to come up with good answers. She started off her postsecondary studies with a General Arts and Science designation, which she hoped to use to get into the nursing profession. But when she ran into some roadblocks which prevented her from getting hired, she started working part-time and going to school for nursing.

Jessica knew she could use some help, so she made an appointment at her local YMCA employment program. She attended workshops and trainings, including mock interviews and skill-building sessions on how to answer tough questions. After graduating from the program, she applied for a position at a local business, and went through the interview process. Thanks to the skills she gained at the Y, she was hired as a staff at the company.

Within a year, Jessica was able to move up to a management position within the organization, which includes hiring new staff. Remembering how the Y helped her when she needed it most, she was motivated to reach out to give others the same opportunity. So Jessica connected with her old counsellors at the Pickering employment centre and let them know the good news, as well as her desire to give back now and help however she can — as well as find more qualified candidates for her company.

Jessica’s story is just another example of how lives can be transformed thanks to the skills and connections fostered through the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s employment programs. To get started on your journey, visit