A home away from home

By carlynn

Jennifer has seen many sides of Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary (BGCC), from the Club programs when she was a child, to the Stampede Work Experience Program as a youth, and now as an adult supervisor. Because of her involvement, it is Jennifer’s dream to become a social worker and help BGCC youth.

Jennifer and her brother TJ began attending the Bowness Club at a young age, where Jennifer was involved in programs such as the Keystone youth leadership program, and TJ participated in after-school activities such as floor hockey, as well as Camp Adventure in the summer.

Jenniferand Tj Working

BGCC has always been a place where Jennifer and TJ felt safe and supported, what they call a “second home, a home away from home.” Jennifer says, “When I was growing up, I was a slow learner, so it was hard for me to learn in the education world. When I came to the Club, it showed me a new aspect of how to learn, how to speak my mind, how to communicate better. It was awesome. It has really had a great impact on my life.” TJ says, “It’s a great place. They taught me life skills, and really helped me become a better person, that’s for sure.”

The initial positive impact that the Community Clubs had on their lives led both Jennifer and TJ to pursue working with BGCC’s Calgary Stampede Work Experience Program.

For more than 40 years, Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary has had a valuable partnership with the Calgary Stampede and Exhibition, providing a Work Experience Program to our youth. The Stampede Work Experience Program provides youth, ages 12 and older, with a paid opportunity to work at the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” and gain valuable work experience. Youth learn important employment skills such as application writing, interview skills, punctuality, and customer service.

As youth, Jennifer and TJ both worked with the Stampede Work Experience Program for five years. Jennifer shares, “It is a great first job for youth who have never had a job. You gain responsibilities, and the joys of learning how to cope with money and working with new people. You learn a lot about communication and teamwork.”

Eager to help other youth through their first job experience, both Jennifer and TJ moved on to become adult supervisors with the Stampede Work Experience Program. But it seems they get just as much out of it as the kids do.

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“I love working with the youth. I know the experiences they go through, I want them to know there is somebody out there who will listen to them, who they can share their experiences with,” says Jennifer, who has been a supervisor for 10 years now. TJ, who just completed his fourth year as a supervisor, agrees: “It helps me to learn new things about myself.”

Jennifer is passionate about continuing to work with youth, and hopes to one day join the BGCC staff as a youth social worker. Until that time, she is eager to share about the impact BGCC has had on her life: “It is a safe and supportive place for kids to be, where they can talk to anyone. I think youth need to know that. A lot of youth out there don’t know that there is a safe place to go.”

Jennifer Tj