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Willowdale Manor Reflections From the Marketing & Events Team

ALEXANDRA: I’ll always think of the summer of 2022 with the fondest and warmest of memories. It was the summer I joined the NeighbourLink as an events coordinator and had the absolute privilege to collaborate on some truly meaningful initiatives. I never expected that a job could be so much fun, where I would become such good friends with my co-workers, Sonia and MJ, and thanks to our manager and mentor, Sebastian, I would learn so much! One of our teams' initiatives was the ‘summer of fun’ senior events that the marketing & events team planned and organized at Willowdale Manor. Throughout the brainstorming and planning process, it felt great to see the way my opinions and ideas were being listened to, and it gave me a sense of responsibility. So then, seeing our teams' collective vision of these inclusive, welcoming, and informative senior events come true, was truly magical. Over the summer, I got to know some of the incredible residents, and I felt so fortunate that they trusted me to share some of their life experiences and stories. Some of the lessons I learned were; 1) A positive attitude will make you live long (laughter is the best medicine), 2) You’ll never be too old to learn something new, 3) Be persistent in your dreams so you won’t have regrets when you're older. Reflecting on this experience, it positively impacted my perspective (& priorities) and brought me so much joy! All I can say is that I felt empowered, inspired, and very productive in this role! I was energized by my team, and it filled me with a sense of purpose and passion. So, thank you to NLNY and residents of Willowdale manor for this experience. I’ll always remember this summer!

MARIA (MJ): As I look back on the time spent planning and organizing the senior events at Willowdale Manor, I am filled with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Gratitude towards all of my co-workers I got to know and everyone on the NeighbourLink North York Events Team who made these wonderful events happen every week, especially Alex and Sonia! Working with both of you was a luxury and I wouldn’t have wanted to start working at this organization with anyone else. Gratitude towards my position and NeighbourLink North York itself as a charitable organization for allowing me to be in every part of the planning process. Gratitude towards all the learning curves we got through and experiences I have gathered throughout the duration of these events, which has led to inner growth and reflection! Gratitude to the Willowdale Manor residents whom I have the privilege of getting to know and learn from. Gratitude to the volunteers of the Senior Care team who helped plan and execute each weekly event. I’m most of all grateful for being able to have positively influenced the lives of the Willowdale Manor residents this summer, it has brought me so much joy and purpose. These events have been an immensely positive learning experience which has affected me in so many ways, it has initiated so much personal development and happiness. I hope the residents of Willowdale Manor have been as touched as I have in being a part of these events, it was my privilege to work in this position throughout the summer!

SONIA: When my twin sister, Alexandra, stumbled upon NeighbourLink’s job posting and casually mentioned my name in her interview, it initiated a wonderful chain of events! My sister and I were both blessed with summer positions at NLNY. One of the best experiences of my summer was helping organize the senior events at Willowdale Manor. It was a privilege working closely with everyone on the events and marketing team, specifically MJ, Alexandra, and Sebastian. I learned so much from them and I’m so lucky to call them not only my co-workers but also my friends!! It was very special planning the senior events together and then actually seeing them come to fruition. Not only did I meet some kind and wise people, but I was also very pleasantly surprised at the diverse cultures and stories the seniors brought from all over the world. Whether it was listening to a 91-year-old telling stories of her life, meeting a classically-trained opera singer or interacting with a former Russian professor of English, I felt very grateful to have met them. We started these events with the intention of positively impacting the residents at Willowdale Manor, but it feels like I was the one that was positively influenced. I learned a few things from them. The first is that despite how long life may seem, it actually goes by very fast. That’s why it’s important to take risks, be brave, and be open to change because you never know what wonderful things life has in store for you. The second thing I learned was how important it is to cherish life and be grateful. Grateful for the relationships with friends and family. Grateful for my health and happiness. And so very grateful for my summer job at NLNY!

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