Brenden Graham is a member of our Fraser Valley Youth Get It Community Council. We sat down with him to talk community and what it’s like being on the Council.
How did you hear about the Coast Capital Youth Get It Community Council?
One of my coworkers was on the inaugural Council and passed on the call for applicants to me three years ago. I’m really thankful he did – it’s been a very rewarding experience.
What made you want to get involved?
I’ve always thought it would be interesting to work with Coast Capital as I really respect how community focused the company is. Helping people is what I love to do, and I saw this as an opportunity to help many people that I will likely never meet.
“There are so many youth that are trying their best to be resilient but just need a bit of help. Young people need a chance.”
Have you always been involved in your community?
Always. I started by coaching basketball camps and community teams. I landed a job with the Surrey School District as a Safe School Liaison and did that while I finished my degree. After a few years of that, I became an Outreach Worker for the school district and worked in inner-city schools with disadvantaged youth where I ran programs that helped them in various capacities.
What do you do now?
I recently finished my degree and am now a Business Education teacher at Princess Margaret Secondary teaching students in grades 10 – 12. I love my job more than anything!
From Safe School Liaison to basketball coach to teacher, you’ve put in your fair share of hours helping youth. How has that inspired your passion for being on the Council?
Through my work experience I’ve seen how much need there is for help in our community. There are so many youth that just need a chance to succeed and for someone to believe in them. The community organizations the Youth Get It Community Councils support provide so much for the youth in our city. There are so many youth that are trying their best to be resilient but just need a bit of help. Young people need a chance.
What has been your favourite part of being on the Council?
I love when we all get together as a team and discuss what organizations are going to receive grant money. It’s pretty surreal when I think about these organizations receiving up to $30,000 and the impact these decisions are going to make in our community.
I also feel being on the Youth Get It Community Council has opened a lot of doors for me. I’ve met some amazing people inside and outside of Coast Capital and have had some great opportunities to learn more about non-profit organizations.
Is there a specific memory or moment you’ll always remember?
I’ll always remember my first adjudication meeting. We allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars to community organizations. It was the most money I had ever dealt with in my life, and it all went to help youth. It was awesome.
How has your experience been working with a group of people that both do and don’t work at Coast Capital? What value does that add to the conversation?
It’s been great. Our external members have such a range of experience – we’ve got a lawyer, a couple counselors, some entrepreneurs – it’s amazing. It has been so valuable getting to know the external members and sharing our passion for helping youth. The internal members have been equally incredible – they’re inspiring and passionate about what they do. In all honesty, if I wasn’t a teacher, I would love to be an employee at Coast Capital! Because of the range of experiences, the conversations we have at our adjudication meetings are so rich and full of different perspectives.
Next year is going to be your third year on the Council, which means your term will be up. What will you take from this experience?
This experience has inspired me to become a stronger leader in my community and do even more to give back. I’d love to join the Board of one of the community organizations we’ve supported in the past and to continue to learn and grow. I’m taking with me a feeling of pride, knowing I was a part of something special.
Applications for the Youth Get It Community Council are open until November 7 2016. Learn more.