Mentorship Program Lunch ‘n Learn Offers Inspiration to Moms

November 1st, 2013

Task ForceMembers of the Mentorship Program Task Force with Inspirational Guest Speakers (L to R): Youville Centre Alumna Michelle Torunski, Board Chair Megan Wallace, Shannon Gorman, Stephanie MacGregor, Lisa Larter and Youville Centre Alumna Jennifer Clark.

On Wednesday, October 9th, Youville Centre officially launched the Mentorship Program, which is sponsored by TELUS. During this academic year, we will be offering group mentoring in the form of  “Lunch ‘n Learn” sessions. An opportunity to enjoy a delicious lunch and to listen to and interact with special guest speakers, Lunch ‘n Learns will allow our students to get to know the amazing women who may someday become their one-to-one mentor. Organized by the Mentorship Program Task Force, the theme of this first Lunch ‘n Learn was “Inspiration”. Guest mentors Shannon Gorman (TELUS), Stephanie MacGregor (Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre Foundation) and Lisa Larter (The Lisa Larter Group) each shared their personal stories of trials and triumphs, and offered sage advice to our young moms in all aspects of their lives: career, parenting and personal endeavours.

ShannonA dedicated member of the Task Force and constant supporter of Youville Centre through her work with TELUS, Shannon Gorman shared her story with our young moms. Having been a young mom herself, she empathized with Youville’s moms in their struggles with parenting, finances, and choosing a partner who will be a positive influence in their child’s life. Shannon said, “Go where your dreams take you. Sucess is yours — Youville is your first big step”. Shannon reminded the students to believe in themselves, and to remember that if they can dream it, they can achieve it. She also offered wise advice about healthy relationships, “Do not date people who do not share your dreams or empower you”, she said. An important lesson for any young person, but especially a young person who is parenting.

StephanieFollowing Shannon was Stephanie McGregor, the Executive Director of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre Foundation. A single mother herself, Stephanie had unique insight not only from a parenting perspective but also from a career perspective to share with the Youville moms. She urged the students to, “recognize [their] worth” and to “forgive others, and forgive [themselves]”. She reminded the girls that making their own choices is a very empowering skill, and to know that they are not alone if they are struggling and sacrificing for their children. Stephanie’s travel stories inspired our young moms to ‘dream big’ and hope to explore the world someday like she did.

LisaLisa Larter provided living proof to the girls that a child raised by a single mother with limited means can still be very successful! Lisa’s mother worked very hard to make ends meet, and although Lisa valued her mother’s efforts greatly, she knew that she wanted a better life for herself, and she has worked very hard to make that a reality, becoming one of Ottawa’s premiere speakers and consultants. Lisa reminded the girls not to give up on themselves, and she empowered them by saying, “You owe it to your child to develop your own self and your own life”.

Youville Centre’s young moms enjoyed their special lunch and were touched and inspired by our three amazing guest speakers. By sharing honest, touching, and inspirational stories, Shannon, Stephanie and Lisa helped us to successfully launch the Mentorship Program.

Many thanks to all three ladies, and to Lisa for providing a gift for our students — signed copies of a book in which she is featured entitled “Fearless Women” which shares stories and profiles of amazing women in society.

In closing, please hear from Youville’s young moms themselves and what they had to say about our very first Lunch ‘n Learn:

“They had a good sense of humour. I like that they reached out to young moms and told us not to give up. The different stories in the Fearless book were really interesting and inspired me — especially the one about women dealing with obstacles. I found that all of the students were interested. Girls were crying, they were moved. I would like to have more Lunch & Learns and get to know some of the ladies better, especially Lisa. It was so great to hear from them about what it was like to be the kid of a single mom and see single moms who are role models. It makes me realize I can be a good role model too. Thank you to the mentors for giving their time and energy and donations to us. I feel like it inspires us girls to rely on and believe in ourselves.”
~Kayla, Age 16

“They went through it and they did it! So, if we need to know how, then we can look to them.”
~Brianna, age 19

“When I looked into their eyes, I knew it was hard and I thank them for sharing it. I learned some stuff like I can do a good job.”
~Ashley, age 19

“To know that they were in my position and came out on top and are successful, gives us hope and keeps us motivated to do the unthinkable for ourselves.”
~Amber, age 20

“The ladies from the Lunch & Learn really inspired me. They are such strong women to come and share their empowering stories in hopes of influencing our pathways. Though not all the women who spoke with us were teen moms, they still faced their own challenges. Their stories were powerful and they moved many of the moms and Youville staff to tears. These women helped me to realize that all is possible and there is no reason to settle for less when you can always achieve more. Youville Lunch & Learns are extremely inspiring and I can’t wait to experience more!”
~Shauna, age 18