Virginia was born and raised in El Salvador and came to Canada about 5 years ago with her husband and kids. Virginia has a professional background in Sociology and Health Promotion from her home country. Unable to find meaningful employment and experiencing barriers to post–secondary education, Virginia heard about the Immigrant Women Immigration Program (IWIP) and applied right away. Throughout her participation in the IWIP, Virginia developed her personal and professional profile. She delivered workshops to community members, conducted surveys and created projects to address resident’s needs in her neighbourhood. Virginia invested over 300 hours in COSTI Employment Services. She was awarded first place of the Elizabeth Cooke Award due to her great work and commitment to community capacity building.
When asked what community engagement means to her, Virginia responded, “Community Engagement is the decision to be an active part of the reality that surrounds us (family, friends, community, city or country). Every time I take the initiative to get out of individuality and start thinking about others I am directing my leadership. We cannot be isolated thinking that community engaged leadership is something that corresponds to the politicians or local officials.” Thanks to her involvement in IWIP, Virginia continues to build a collaborative atmosphere for participants in Regent Park and her own community. She was recently hired by YMCA as a full–time front line worker in Spanish and English, where she is excited to share her skills with others while continuing to develop her personal profile.