Could understand what I was going through and made me feel good and that it was okay to have [those feelings]. Made me laugh and understand my feelings in a different way.
Nexus Youth Engagement Worker Receives Dedication Award
Tuesday, June 21, 2016Nexus Youth Services (Nexus) is proud to share that for the second year in a row, a Nexus staff member has been awarded the Bhayana Family Foundation’s Dedication Award. The 2016 Dedication Award, which recognizes extraordinary contributions made by frontline staff working at United Way of Peel Region funded agencies, was awarded to Youth Engagement Worker Melissa Louka.
The peer-nominated Dedication Award celebrates the remarkable dedication, creativity and team spirit that is essential to creating a better community for everyone. The award is supported by a generous donation from Madan and Raksha M. Bhayana and the Bhayana Family Foundation.
If you've ever visited the Nexus Youth Centre, you will know that Melissa has been working there full-time for a number of years. All of her colleagues and the many youth she works with would agree that Melissa is truly deserving of this recognition. In the words of her nominator and colleague Nancy Hood:
“Melissa’s commitment to excellence sets her apart as a dedicated colleague and ally to the Nexus staff and youth she serves. She instills both optimism and possibility in everything she does. Compassionate, enthusiastic and kind-hearted, Melissa approaches her work with integrity, welcoming challenging/difficult activities, and consistently ensuring success for every project.
"In the Fall of 2015, Melissa supported volunteers to organize a Thanksgiving dinner for youth who might otherwise miss celebrating with friends and family. Obstacles encountered during the planning only encouraged her to work harder. Rallying support from colleagues, friends and family, Melissa realized the youths’ desire for a true Thanksgiving, bringing together 60+ youth for a delicious feast in a community-fostering environment.
"As a Youth Engagement Worker, Melissa personifies Nexus’ mission by creating opportunities that are inclusive/responsive to the needs/voices of youth. As the adult-ally for Nexus’ Pro-ject Leadership Group (PLG), she supports youth in assuming leadership roles, mentoring these volunteers in organizing community activities. Together, they developed NexTalks, a mental health event where youth shared their personal journey overcoming challenges. Under Melissa’s guidance, youth received support with logistics, each young speaker was mentored, and all participants were ensured a safe/enriching experience.
"Melissa is both the familiar face of NYC and the heart of its influence on the lives of youth, often going above and beyond the call of duty. To colleagues, Melissa projects as warm, caring and supportive with limitless generosity. She is the first to offer a helping hand or listening ear. She greets you with a smile, and her humour keeps you laughing! Melissa always has something to share and her enthusiasm is infectious. Melissa’s community-fostering nature is cherished by colleagues and youth alike.”
Congratulations, Melissa, and thank you for your unwavering dedication and commitment to working for and with youth.