Youth helping youth

Originally published in Collingwood Neighbourhood House’s 2018-2019 annual report.

After volunteering at Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH) in Grade 11 for her high school graduation, Odette Videla never left.

The 19-year-old continues to volunteer with youth programs and, more recently, began working with child care services offered through CNH, too. 

“They have the youth program so [during high school] I would come here every Friday and Saturday to help in the kitchen or in the gym or to help set up when we had events,” she said. “But now I just come here for fun and to help out if they need it, especially in the kitchen.”

Odette has spent more than 15 years living in the neighbourhood, but she only recalls visiting the neighbourhood house in her earlier years, when her younger sister attended daycare.

On Friday evenings, Odette can be found leading baking sessions for Kids’ Kitchen. She often makes cookies with the participants, who range from 10 to 18 years old, but sometimes she switches it up, opting for a recipe new to the youth.

Odette says she enjoys working with children and youth. On her days off, she visits CNH “to relax” and spend time with other children and youth.

She credits staff from youth services for encouraging her to volunteer with different programs and to participate in new opportunities at CNH, as well as for assisting her with seeking job opportunities.

“I’ve learned that it’s better to keep being open minded,” Odette said.

As for her advice to other young people in the community?

“Try to help out as much as you want and can, and don’t be afraid to talk to others or see if they’re okay,” she said. “And just invite everyone in when you see someone new.”

For more information about CNH youth programs, visit