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Mar 3rd, 2023

Meet Kexin: An Inside Look at a New Partnership with the YMCA

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In February, we sat down with a new member of the OCH maintenance team, Kexin.

Kexin was a participant in a new partnership between OCH and the YMCA Pre-Apprenticeship Home Renovation Training Program. The goal is to provide participants with the training necessary to find employment in residential renovation. Jobs would include things such as carpentry and drywall finishing.

Following the training, participants can take part in 8-12 weeks of paid work placement. Following the placement, participants may choose to apply for a position permanently.

By the numbers   

This fall, 27 participants were enrolled in the program, eight of which were hired permanently by OCH in early January. Seven OCH managers volunteered to take on the supervision of a placement. Maintenance workers also stepped in to take on roles as mentors – coaching and training students from the program.

What’s the benefit?   

This program helps fill a need for maintenance workers. But, more importantly, it helps support the goals of working with partners to provide opportunities for the under-employed and OCH tenants.

Now that Kexin has had some time to settle in, we asked her about her experience at OCH and what drew her to work here.

“OCH is a well-organized corporation,” she said. “This is important because I know I can be treated equally, and I will have a lot of growing space here.”

When asked about the maintenance worker role, she said she likes solving problems using all kinds of tools.

She also thinks there are a lot of opportunities for growth at OCH.

“For me, working for OCH is not only about now, but also about the future,” she said.

What does a typical day look like?   

At the beginning of the day, Kexin gets a summary of the jobs. Next, she will prepare what material she needs. Once she’s gathered her tools, she will get job tickets – which provide details about the work orders she will complete. Occasionally, she will have to prioritize immediate, urgent repairs through radio calls.

At the end of the day, she organizes the tools and cleans the van.

A year ago, Kexin was inspired to join the YMCA program after learning about a woman building tiny houses in Calgary. Once Kexin decided she wanted to get into the trades, she set out to find out about programs that offered training, and that’s when she found the YMCA program.

She said being new is a challenge because there’s a lot to learn – home maintenance includes carpentry, plumbing and electrical.

“It’s a challenge, but a good opportunity to learn new stuff,” she said.

She added the work provides a real sense of achievement.

“My favourite part is seeing the problems solved and good results produced by my efforts,” she said.