Finding a New Home

Sebastian and his family are grateful for the help of an agency dedicated to ensuring newcomer youth and adults can thrive in Canada

As a newcomer, Sebastian found himself struggling in school and trying to learn English. Now, five years later, he is volunteering at the United Way-supported agency and serving as a leader to newcomers arriving today.

His family emigrated from El Salvador when Sebastian was seven.

“It was because of the state my country was in. It wasn’t the greatest in terms of safety. We were shot at one day when going to my grandma’s house, and I think that’s what led my parents to finally make the decision to immigrate.”

It wasn’t long before settling in their new neighbourhood that Sebastian’s mom learned about an agency that offered programs to help newcomer, racialized, and marginalized communities. The program helps people to thrive and succeed through mentorship, access to post-secondary education, professional skills development, entrepreneurship, sports and recreation.

Sebastian started playing soccer in the summer and then enrolled in a homework help program. 

He was still learning English and struggling with his schoolwork in Grade 5. 

“But thankfully I saw examples of older people at the agency who were volunteering and participating. I thought, ‘If they can do it, why can’t I do it?’”

So, how are his grades now? 

“Honestly, because of the agency, I have good grades. And I know how to ask for help when I am struggling.”

Sebastian has also taken part in a leadership program in which activities are led by youth for students in Grades 5 to 7 around communication, advocacy and teamwork. He also volunteers with the soccer program he once played in.

Sebastian’s little sister has also participated in soccer and art programs and received homework help. And now their mom is working in a local restaurant and will study culinary arts thanks to a scholarship through the agency.

“It’s a very friendly atmosphere. You can tell that the people there care about the community,” Sebastian says of the agency that has meant so much to his family.

He reflects on how far he’s come and how that shows up in pictures of him and his sister on their first day at the program compared to ones taken a couple of months ago.

“You can just tell that the program has been there for us that whole time.”

And now Sebastian wants to give back and be that model of success for young kids that he found. 

“When I saw the little kids at soccer I realized what an impact this program has. Every time I would show up they were just so happy. That’s a great feeling.”

Help change lives today.

Melise BreretonSebastian’s Story