Four Organization Leaders on Surviving the Pandemic

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Four Organization Leaders on Surviving the Pandemic

In this program, produced as part of the Thank-a-thon project by the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce, Host, Rnold Smith, along with several of the young New Westminster ambassadors look into how four different organizations have been affected by Covid 19 and how they've had to pivot to continue.

The leaders of the Urban Academy, an alternative school in New Westminster, the Massey Theatre, Patterson Brands, and the local Hyack football team, are all asked four sets of questions by the young female ambassadors, who are yearly chosen to represent the community and to serve at various events, under the Hyack Leadership progam.

In  this video, Ashley Choi, (also co-host), Tiana Beaudoin, and Moira Young, Miss New Westminster 2020, ask the guests several essential questions: What keeps you going? What is the passion that drives you? What has been the impact on their organization and how has it had to pivot to deal with the changed situation? What can the community do to support the organization? What are these leaders thankful for?

Jessica Schneider, who runs the 1260-seat Massey Theatre, is driven by her passion and purpose to elevate artists. She feels strongly that it is the arts that are the heart of our society, lifting our spirits and our emotional state. As ticket sales are essential for artists to pay, in part, for rental of the theatre, and the inability to sell more than 50 tickets in these Covid times, performing arts shows are untenable. She says that she has been working to shift to recording and streaming services to create virtual events. The community could help, she says, by making donations, as they are needed to upgrade their recording and streaming services. As a registered charity, tax receipts are provided.

Rick Patterson, of Patterson Brands, which makes promotional items for small businesses, says that his business dropped off to almost nothing immediately following the pandemic shutdown, but now clients are coming back, and he has been able to hire back his key employee. Creating masks was one thing that was part of the pivot – their designs were well-received. He says that the community can help by patronizing local business, including a lot of the hidden business where people work from home, professionals such as dentists, lawyers, etc., and also businesses that have other businesses as their prime clientele.

The Urban Academy leader says that her passion for watching the students learn and grow is what keeps her going. Pivoting to online learning has required a great deal of openness to the needs of the children and teachers and the need to focus on what matters. Being creative, and being responsive and resilient have been qualities that everybody has had to rely on to make things work. As for the community, Sonya says that parents need to understand that the teachers and others who work at the school have dedicated their lives to do this important work.  Patience, flexibility and grace are helpful in these trying times.

Farham Lalji, head coach of the high school football team, formerly a pro player and also a TSN sports reporter, says what he is thankful for is the spirit and commitment of the players, and the staying power of their sponsors. Watching the young people grow, learn, and change into adults is what keeps him going. With the Hyack Football Team unable to play during this time, his main concern is keeping the program visible over this prolonged pandemic period.  His personal object is to stay patient and change messaging so the younger kids coming up will know that football will be a viable option in the future.

By: Susan Millar


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