Mentorship Lunch ‘n Learn #2: Setting Goals & Finding Your Strengths

December 17th, 2013

On Tuesday, November 26th, 2013, we hosted our second Mentorship Program Lunch ‘n Learn. The theme was “Setting Goals and Finding Your Strengths”, and we were fortunate to have three very special guests to help impart helpful guidance and information to Youville’s young moms. Guest presenters included Marlene Floyd, Director of Operations and Outreach for Justin Trudeau, and Co-Founder of Dress for Success Ottawa; Heidi Roberts, Corporate Coach and Facilitator at Spectrum Professional Coaching & Consulting; and Melissa Courchesne, Heidi’s friend and an alumna of St. Mary’s Home.

MarleneMarlene reminded Youville’s young moms to “think big and strive big”. Sharing stories of her upbringing and of how, even on a tight budget, her mom saved money for Marlene’s education, she told the students, “Education is why I’m here.” Her love of politics was inherited from her father, who supported her, in spite of others’ stereotypes about women in politics, when he would say: “You’re a girl, therefore you can do these things!” Since we met Marlene she has taken on a new role working for Justin Trudeau, and her story is living proof that goal-setting works. At 17 years of age she set a goal to work for the Prime Minister someday, and she realized this goal by the age of 26 working for then Prime Minister Paul Martin. Now continuing to live her passion working in politics again, Marlene reminded the students to not be afraid to ask for help along the journey.” She did just that when she co-founded Dress for Success Ottawa, a volunteer initiative close to her heart. “I set a goal and I found something that made me proud.” She built a team at Dress for Success, and she suggested that Youville’s young moms build their own team — family members, friends, Youville staff, mentors, anyone who can help them to achieve their goals. “No one expects you to acheive your goals by yourself”, she said. “Ask for help.” Marlene told the students, “You’re going to have setbacks, but you can set goals and make achievements that your children will be proud of.”

MelissaMelissa courageously shared her personal story of struggle and self-discovery with Youville’s young moms. Now a mother of three girls, Melissa got pregnant at 18 and was a client at St. Mary’s Home. She then got married and started working in a government job thinking both of those things would help create stability and security in her life. One day at work she broke down from emotional stress and pressure, as she was simply not happy with her life and where it was headed. This took her to a dark place where she even contemplated suicide. At that point, however, Melissa decided there was too much at stake and that she wanted a better life. “I chose to live”, she said. Melissa shared with the students an important lesson that she learned: “If I want to take care of others, I better take care of myself first.” One year later she is spending quality time with her girls, practicing yoga, and being a good example to everyone around her. “I know that I want to help others using my strengths”, she said, and she is doing just that using her powers of self-discovery to help others in that same process to learn how they can live their best life.

HeidiHeidi Roberts’ favourite quote is: “Be grateful for the life lessons that challenge you to dig deep. That’s where the gold lives.” (Cheryl Richardson). After sharing this quote with Youville’s young moms, she went on to tell her story and then lead everyone in an exercise to help identify their strengths. Having grown up with financial struggles and having been a victim of abuse, Heidi also became pregnant young, only she was in university at the time. Instead of being defeated, she saw it “as a chance to be a great mom.” Heidi asked her professors for help to be successful and they were all very supportive. Today, Heidi has two children and they are her catalyst to be the best example she can be. “My role as a mom became the most important rold I’ve ever played.” Working as a coach and consultant, Heidi brought her strengths to the Lunch & Learn in the form of an activity.

Card ActivityThe activity focused on identify strengths and setting goals. Each card represented a different strength, for example, “I am most effective in one-on-one conversations.” Students were encouraged to choose a card that represented one of their strengths. Then, they were to think of an issue or a problem that they are struggling with, and then start to think about how the strength on the card might help them with that issue. The final step was to set a goal in which your strength will help attack the problem. Youville’s students enjoyed the activity and all three speakers inspired and ignited our young moms to “strive big”, identify their strengths and set goals for a brighter future for themselves and their children. Many thanks to Marlene, Melissa and Heidi for sharing their stories and their strengths!

Heidi wanted to share a special message she sent to us after the event:

I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to you and to the students and faculty of the Youville Centre. I was deeply touched by the active listening and engagement of all that were present. I was amazed at the commitment to learning and making a better life for themselves that the students demonstrated. The faculty that I spoke with are so incredibly committed to helping these students and I was struck by all that I witnessed and experienced. To the students: Thank you to each of you for making yourself available for the Strengths and Goal Setting Lunch and Learn. You stayed with me in spite of all of life’s distraction and I felt the respect that you were demonstrating by doing so! As we were discussing strengths during our time together, I really want to acknowledge the strengths that each of you have, of Commitment, Determination and Perseverance. Your continued presence at the Youville Centre demonstrates these strengths each time you show up to learn and grow. As a young mother, it is that very drive and determination that will help catapult you forward to the life you want to be living and creating for yourself and your young family. So keep going!!! (even when the snow is flying and it seems easier to stay home) I was struck by your acceptance of and openness to my presence and what I had to offer to you. I was also so touched by the pride you have in your beautiful children. It truly warmed my heart to meet each of you and I look forward to being able to get to know each of you on a more personal level. Until next time I wish you peace and love. ~Heidi