Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH) proudly recognizes its long-serving staff members. At this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), CNH staff and contractors who have reached the milestones of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and, for the first time in CNH’s history, 30 years of service and dedication to the neighbourhood house, were thanked by the Board of Directors.
Carmen E. Correal Martinez began to take ESL classes run by Collingwood Neighbourhood House at First Lutheran Church after arriving in Vancouver in July 1998. Before immigrating to Canada, Carmen had obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education as well as a Master’s degree in Sexual Education and Orientation in Colombia. She had also worked as a PE teacher during her time there.
Upon finishing her ESL classes in 1999, Carmen started volunteering for several recreation programs at CNH, such as Parents and Tots. She started her own program soon after, which she called ‘Spanish with Fun’ dedicated to the local families in the Collingwood community.
Carmen started her first work at CNH as a Recreation Sub. She then became a Regular Instructor for adults and school children, where she got to work closely with Mike McLenaghen, the Recreation Coordinator at that time. In 2006, Carmen was promoted to the full-time role of Recreation Coordinator when Mike became a Director and has since been working in the position.
Carmen’s family has been deeply connected to CNH since they first immigrated to Canada. Carmen’s son Carlos joined her when she was volunteering for Parents and Tots. Her daughter Laura also helped her translate and read to the children during the ‘Spanish with Fun’ classes. Her other daughter, Adriana, has also been involved with CNH and created an art installation on the foyer walls. In fact, both Laura and Adriana have worked as Recreation Instructors. All three of Carmen’s children have volunteered in a diversity of CNH programs. Carmen’s daughter has two small children and they have also had the opportunity to participate in the various programs that Collinwood has to offer, including Parents and Tots.
Carmen says, “CNH has given me the opportunity to learn and grow and be part of the community. I love having the opportunity to give back and feel very connected to the Collingwood community. It’s so rewarding to support newcomers and residents when they come to Collingwood. CNH staff are so supportive of me, and I want to thank them all.”