The Staff Spotlight Series features dedicated staff at Skylark who have made a lasting impact in the community. We explore what motivates our staff to do the amazing work they do every day.
Meet Rory Grant, Administrative Assistant & Receptionist at Skylark’s YouthCan Impact walk-in clinic.
What has been your experience at Skylark so far?
Rory joined Skylark as a volunteer in 2015. Over the past 3 years, he has been involved in numerous programs at Skylark. He has volunteered in fundraising, the Hillsdale residence, the Visions Day Treatment program, and as a mentor for a counselling client. These experiences have allowed him to be a positive male role model for youth.
His volunteer involvement led him to be hired at Skylark as an Administrative Assistant & Receptionist. He continues to be involved in many roles, including admin work, reception at the YouthCan Impact walk-in clinic, outreach ambassador, and facilitating Skylark’s DBT program. He says, “I like to do a little bit of everything. I like to find ways to say yes.”
Being involved in so many programs, he gets the opportunity to connect with staff and volunteers from across the organization. “It makes me feel like a part of the whole community at Skylark,” he says.
Rory feels that all of the work he does is meaningful. “The little pieces we do have an impact on the biggest, most important end goal – the clients.” He appreciates that everyone at Skylark is dedicated to helping children, youth and families.
What have you learned during your time at Skylark?
Rory has learned that the most important aspect he looks for in a workplace environment is his identity in the space. At Skylark, Rory values how staff members see him as the best version of himself.
In addition, he has learned a lot about mental health. What stands out most to him is the incredible resiliency he sees in youth, through their language, art, and willingness to open up. “The counsellors have taught me to see youth for their strengths and see the problems they’re facing as external to them.” In this way, he is able to recognize the brave and powerful ways that youth manage difficult challenges in their lives. He says, “Whether it’s the art they create or opening up to a stranger at the walk-in, it’s incredible how resilient these youth are.”
The most prevalent issues he has witnessed young people struggling with are traumatic pasts, intense emotions, and invalidating environments. Speaking about youth with marginalized identities, he says that “In situations where no one understands them, they still stay true to what they feel. It is powerful to watch them be confident and advocate and at such a young age. It takes so much inner confidence. It blows my mind to see that.”
What motivates your dedication to child and youth mental health?
The biggest motivation for Rory is helping people feel comfortable with their vulnerability. “Every week people come to us who have never done counselling before. Almost every time someone walks through the door it’s a vulnerable moment. And it’s never easy.”
At the walk-in clinic, youth are often opening up and sharing their story for the first time. As the receptionist at Skylark’s YouthCan Impact walk-in clinic, Rory is the first point of contact for young people and their families. He says, “If they have a positive experience, they start to trust adults in this field.” He values his role in giving people more faith in the world by celebrating their vulnerability.
How has your role evolved at Skylark?
Over the years, Rory’s role has evolved as he has become more involved at Skylark. Rory says, “I started off as a positive male role model and now I have a DBT background and counsellors come to me for resources. Sitting here at reception, I learn about all the resources in the city.” Rory is excited to be involved in Skylark’s growth as an organization and expanded impact in the community.
After volunteering and working at Skylark, Rory has learned that he wants to become a social worker in the youth mental health field. Volunteering has opened so many doors for him. Rory recommends to search for volunteer opportunities that allow you to have an impact and build relationships. “Then you love it,” he says.