Lanya arrived in Montreal in August 2020 and is thrilled to be joining the L'Annexe team. She first learned of Ometz when living in Montreal for one year in 2018, having been introduced by her former employer, Jewish Vocational Service of San Francisco. Lanya comes to L'Annexe with a background in employment, education, and social services, and spent the past eight years working with young adults in Portland, Oregon. She has been honored to serve individuals coming out of incarceration, youth with disabilities, and immigrant communities in the U.S., among others. Lanya was first introduced to Montreal's Jewish community as a volunteer at CHSLD Juif Donald Berman in 2018. We had a virtual chat with Lanya to learn more about her and the plans for L’Annexe in 2021.
Q: After living in the United States all these years, you made the move to Quebec in the midst of a pandemic—that must have been an adjustment for you and your family! Tell us what brought you here.
A: My family and I lived in Montreal for one year in 2018 while my husband was doing a sabbatical at Concordia and UQAM. We loved the city and made lasting friendships with people from all over the world. When a permanent position opened at Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), my husband applied. We returned to our home in Portland, Oregon for one year to finish my husband's contract there. We discovered that moving during a pandemic adds additional layers of logistical complications, but after months of planning (and re-planning), we arrived in Quebec in August. My daughters attend a classe d'accueil program and yes, it has been an adjustment! Luckily, we have felt so welcomed and cared for by both the school and the programs that we've been connected to as new arrivals. We feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity to raise our children in a multicultural, bilingual city.
Q: How did you learn about L’Annexe?
A: I was introduced to Ometz when I lived here in 2018 through my former employer, Jewish Vocational Service of San Francisco. The Executive Director from JVS connected me with Gail Small and Lois Liverman. At that time, L'Annexe was in the planning phase and I remember thinking "I would love to work for that program!" When we arrived in Montreal in August, I re-connected with Ometz, this time as a client (thank you to my Employment Specialist, Cathy Grundman). Now, two years after my first introduction, I have the opportunity to join the team!
Q: What big things can we expect from you and the team in 2021?
A: That is a great question. I am feeling optimistic that agencies and businesses will be able to open their doors in some capacity in 2021, so I look forward to the day when we can welcome L'Annexe clients into the beautiful centre! Since I am just coming on board, I'm eager to work with our team on our priorities, goals, and dreams for the centre. This, along with input from the young adults themselves and the community, will help guide the vision and programming for 2021.
Q: For those that are unfamiliar with L’Annexe, can you explain why you think the centre is so important for our community?
A: Research and lived experience tells us that the years of late adolescence and early adulthood are pivotal to our identity and sense of place in the world. This is a time of exploration and experimentation, and that comes with its challenges. I believe that an inclusive and welcoming place where young adults can safely make mistakes, expand their skills and experiences, and connect with peers can be a cornerstone during a time of life often marked by transition and uncertainty. It is amazing that Ometz has been able to create a space where young people can access such a holistic range of services, including employment, education, mental health counseling, as well as opportunities to engage and have fun with friends and peers.