It took over 1,500 miles to find her next adventure in life, but Miana is happy to begin her new journey at the South Spokane YMCA. She grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, just north of Minnesota on the banks of Lake Superior. After graduating from high school she paid a visit to Spokane to visit a friend, while driving back home she made the decision to pack up her life and start something new. “I was in the car and just decided it was something I wanted to do…the hardest part was telling my mom, but she was so excited for me,” Miana said.
Once the car was packed she made the multi-day trip to the Inland Northwest. Staying with her friend, Miana was able to get her feet on the ground and start looking for work. She had been given a recommendation to apply at the YMCA, and never looked back.
“Everyone was so welcoming here. Staff and members alike made me feel supported and it’s a positive place to be,” Miana said.
Her first role was as Office Administrator but over time she started to gravitate working with children. Now the Youth Development Lead, Miana helps plan programs for children and continues to work in the Child Watch area. She is currently finishing up her associate degree and is exploring going into teaching or childcare in the future. “I’ve always loved working with kids. Making connections is what it’s all about.”
Miana points out one instance in particular when she was working with a child that had severe separation anxiety and the transformation that happened. “We had a child who couldn’t stay in the Child Watch area more than a few minutes before becoming upset and asking for their parent…it was amazing to work with the two in order to help turn those minutes into full hours. We gave this mom more time for self-care and helped the child get over their fears and grow.”
Connecting and engaging with members and their families is the best part of the job for Miana, “Being here is fulfilling…you’re building relationships with people and that’s what really matters. Members take the time to get to know us and we take the time to get to know them; It’s not a one-sided relationship and I really appreciate that.”
Miana says she looks forward to exploring around her new home more and expects to visit Seattle and Portland in the springtime.