Meet Faisal. He’s 23 years old and has been an employee of the YMCA since May 2023. But Faisal’s first experience with the YMCA goes back to 2011, when he was 14 and settled in Hamilton, Ontario after immigrating to Canada with his mother and six siblings from Syria during the civil war.
He says a youth settlement worker came to his high school and introduced them to the Newcomer Youth Centre. It was a space that allowed Faisal to explore his interests, practice his English, and meet friend and mentors.
"The YMCA kind of saved my life by providing that safe place for me to go to after school."
Through his mentor, Ed, Faisal was encouraged to pursue his dream of studying policing. He has since graduated college and earned a minor degree from McMaster University.
But he says his calling has always been to help newcomer youth.
“I want to make a positive impact for the next generation and give back to those who supported me.”
After college, Faisal contacted Ed to see if there were any positions at the Y. He got the job as a Newcomer Youth Worker with Youth of Tomorrow and has since been a light that helps guide and support newcomers as they transition to a new country and way of life.
“When I look at youth that I’ve helped find a part-time job or do well in school after coming to Canada, I see myself in their shoes, and it motivates me. It reminds me that the YMCA can really have a life-saving impact—that it only takes one person to believe in you.”
Employees like Faisal and Ed are the spark that ignites the potential in people in our community. It’s because of them that the YMCA can foster hope, growth and strength.