Outreach counsellor gratified when making a difference in someone’s life


Sometimes the goal is accessing the basics, like food and housing
Monday September 19, 2011 — Deb Bartlett

Going home at the end of the day knowing she’s made a difference in someone’s life is satisfying to outreach counsellor Ilona Koschiecha.

Ilona has worked for Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) for seven years. Before working in outreach, she worked in the day program.

In outreach, she has been part of many success stories, connecting people to services and activities, as well as helping prepare people for school and work.

“It’s their life, it’s their struggle,” Ilona says. Sometimes people are afraid, or don’t know what services are out there to help them. Helping them to achieve goals is gratifying, she says.

Ilona recently worked with a newcomer to Canada, who wanted to make connections in her community, and go to college. She had taken some English as a Second Language, and Ilona worked with her to achieve some goals to get accepted into Douglas College.

The woman will take some English classes, and will get job training through the Consumer and Job Preparation program.

The woman wanted to find something meaningful to do, volunteer, and build her confidence. With Ilona’s help the woman volunteered at BEST (BACI Employment and Supported Training) and “blossomed. She gained new computer skills, and we see a possibility in the future that she can transfer these skills to get employment as a receptionist.”

The woman feels better about herself and gained confidence, and is actually a little sad she’s going to college, “and she won’t be able to volunteer as many hours,” says Ilona.

“There is help out there, and there are things that they can do,” she says. “It just makes you feel better that you’re making a difference in someone’s life. It’s very, very rewarding.”

She credits much of BACI’s success to the fact that the organization takes such a personal approach and staff members are very connected with the people they support.

As an example, Ilona recounts the story of a woman who was looking for alternative housing because of a health and safety issue. The woman was able to qualify for several subsidies, says Ilona.

“She was able to keep a roof above her head,” says Ilona. “We had different goals that we worked on but this was most important.”

Ilona says working with people “to make sure they have a roof above their head and they have food at home,” makes her grateful for all the things she has in her life.

If you would like to comment on this story, contact Deb at 1-800-294-0051, or e-mail deb(at)axiomnews.ca.


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