Keith and Karen
“I love listening to the sounds of our Centre- the positive and enriching conversations that my staff have with clients. We have such a positive energy at OVRC and it is truly a blessing to be able to share the experience of seeing relationships happen daily.”
This is Keith Robinson, Executive Director of the Osborne Village Resource Centre, describing the best part of his day. The chatter he’s describing spills out from the workshops, one-on-one counselling, computer training, and job search services that the Centre has been offering since 1996 to individuals who are unemployed, underemployed, or wanting to make a career change.
Keith’s vision for the Centre- “to provide clients with the resources, tools and services to target their job search and find the position that is a ‘good fit’ ”- is very reflective of his own personal experience. While he has led a diverse professional life, including careers in radio and retail, it was not until he went back to college to pursue a Business Administration degree did he find his calling in the employment services sector. Keith’s ‘good fit’ came two years after graduation when he found OVRC. Since then, he has been with the Centre for 12 years working in various capacities, including the past three years as its Executive Director.
So, Keith and OVRC have consistently been a resource and a support system for people undergoing change. But what happens when the organization itself needs to change?
They call Spark.
In 2015 OVRC began a complicated transition. It was to separate from the Manitoba Institute of Training and Technology (MITT) and operate as a standalone organization. This meant having to establish a new Board of Directors, Human Resources, and financial systems.
Not an easy task.
To help, Spark created a mentorship match between Keith and Karen Velthuys, former Executive Director of Youth Employment Services (YES) Manitoba.
The pair met once a month for one year to plan the transition, seek out the resources and people they need, problem solve, troubleshoot, and finally launch the new organization.
Over the course of the year, Karen’s help proved invaluable. According to Keith, Karen “truly cares about making a difference” and showed this by providing positive advice and feedback, helping him keep his confidence up, and sharing essential documents. The latter was crucial as working from existing documents instead of creating new ones saved time and kept the project on track and on time.
Speaking of timelines, the two worked so well together that they not only successfully finished the organizational transition to a stand-alone operation two months before the June 1st deadline, they developed a personal friendship along the way.
Starting over can be hard. I’m sure that all of you have had to do it at some point in your lives, either personally, professionally, or both. It forces us out of what’s comfortable and pushes us into (or past) our stretch zones. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but what makes it easier is if you have a support system in place during those times of change.
OVRC has acted as a community resource for over 22 years. When they needed help they called us. Spark mentorship matches offer support to individuals new to their roles by connecting them with experienced professionals. Through informal meetings over the course of the year, both parties share experiences, tools, and wisdom in an effort to build the mentees capacity. If you are interested reading more about Spark’s mentorship matches you can read another ED’s experience here.