“One day on my way from the Armoury to our Whyte Avenue location I saw one of our youth waiting at a bus stop. They were showered, in fresh clothes, listening to music while waiting for the bus, which left me with a great sense of pride knowing my team provided this youth with their clothes, a safe space to sleep and shower, and their meals so they could proceed with their day indistinguishable from every other person at that bus stop.” – Darin Maxwell, Director of Facilities, YESS
Hello. I’m Darin Maxwell and I have been the YESS Operations Manager since December of 2020, and now the Director of Facilities. I manage the Facilities and Kitchen teams and wish my legacy to be the critical importance of providing and maintaining safe spaces for our youth, enabling them to continue their journey towards adulthood.
The facilities team maintains, cleans, and cares for YESS’ properties. Our days can run the gamut of having simple projects and chores to complete, to those filled with more wide-ranging challenges. We make sure our youth have access to clean, secure sleeping quarters, shower and laundry facilities, and sanitized spaces in which to access the many resources YESS provides. My team’s work provides the physical elements that our city’s most vulnerable youth need so that they will be able to bring their best selves forward into our programs. We provide the resources for them to continue their journeys towards healing and appropriate community integration rested, clean, clothed, and fed.
Donations in their many forms help to support and are an essential part of all that we provide as a team for the youth. Funds enable us to maintain the properties and to purchase wholesome food. The very basics of clothing and furniture can bring a lot of joy into young lives, as does the gift of time and talents from our many volunteers. The generosity of the community is always needed and is truly appreciated!
Being a native Edmontonian, I am humbled by the opportunity to bring my organization and team-building skills to supporting youth where I live, ensuring they can then strengthen this community with their own legacy for future generations.
Hi! My name is Rhonda Friskie and I’ve been working at YESS for 13 years now. I’d have to say my favourite part about working here has been witnessing our youth reach their full potential. Despite their difficult beginnings, when given a little love and support, they end up flourishing and move on to do amazing things. The world can sometimes be a harsh place, and the strength and courage it takes for them to work through incredibly challenging circumstances is nothing short of admirable. I am deeply inspired by and admire our youth.
I love my role here at YESS and the variety it gives me, with each day presenting new challenges. I am part of an amazing team who work hard to keep our buildings safe for our staff and clients. Everyone here shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission. I’ve met some of the most amazing people in my time here at YESS who continue to inspire me daily, and I feel fortunate to be a part of this incredible team.
Hello, my name is Rosemarie Morla and I have been at YESS for eight years. What I enjoy most about working at YESS is the opportunity to contribute to and offer the youth a safe, comfortable, and clean environment. I enjoy hearing of youth success stories and I am proud to be a part of their journey.
Hi everyone. I’m Zandra. I’ve been working at YESS for eight years already and enjoy working with the Facilities team helping programs provide what youth need.
When we are talking about providing therapeutic spaces for young people, we have to start with our buildings and our maintenance teams. Before a youth or youth worker can be in program, we have to have plans on the layout of the building, the paint colours, the safety of the building, the health of the people who work and live in the space, and the processes for cleaning and repairing the building throughout service delivery. This is important because, as much as we work to build healthy relationships with the youth between our staff and their peers or community, we have to remember that they are building up a very fragile sense of self—self-worth, self-acceptance, and self-expression.
The young people we serve have experienced trauma and this has changed their development from rational problem-solving to emotional survival mode. In this survival mode, problem-solving and communication skills are not developed, or are lost, and this can contribute to crisis behaviours and escalated outbursts. It is really important when a youth is coming down from the escalation that they are supported emotionally but also within the physical space. They have to know that a hole punched in the wall can be repaired and repainted quickly, so that they and other youth are not staring at the physical reminder of their reactions or choices. When windows are broken, we have to respond quickly to ensure that everyone feels safe, and they know that the window will be replaced. If they make a mess and cannot clean it up themselves, we will be there to support and provide them with a clean and healthy environment when they return. It is so important to provide consistency, predictability, and transparency in repairs, cleaning, and building maintenance for the visual safety and security that these youth need. Many of them come from homes where they did not have this foundation of response and support and so we have to show them they deserve nice places too. It provides hope, safety, and an opportunity to try again tomorrow—their crisis outbursts weren’t permanent and neither is the damage. They will calm down, the building will be repaired or cleaned, and they can move forward and learn from the experience. If we did not focus on quick responses and providing safety for staff and youth to work or grow, then their fragile self-worth would be infected with visual shame and reminders of their lowest points.
When a youth has a healthy trajectory of brain development, then they can start to rationalize their behaviour or experiences and learn from them. When a youth is in survival mode, they are not rational; they are emotional and the emotions around the behaviours or experiences solidify in a protective survival way, not a healthy experience way, and that can further cause trauma or heighten trauma responses in the future or even slow down their development further. So we clean, every day. And we replace the windows every time they break without question and without hesitation. We re-patch, we repair, we adjust temperatures, we fix stair rails, and we focus on what we can bring in for safety and security measures to ensure that youth and the staff can do their jobs to the fullest.
What makes our Facilities team unique is that they understand that their role is much bigger than the tasks. They know and believe that they are partners with our Programs staff and work in tandem with respect and empowerment to be around the youth and staff, and also to be seen and heard in program as part of what YESS offers. They laugh and sing and dance and respond with kindness and politeness and a softness that the youth appreciate and the staff respect. While they are a different department that has different strategies, they worked side by side with our programs during the pandemic as essential staff and they continue to work side by side with our Programs staff because both teams are central to providing truly therapeutic care.
The legacy and layers by which every edifice establishes its own unique character have at their foundation the talents, inspiration, warmth, and skills of the people tasked with its care as they build out an ever-evolving story: bricks and mortar tucked with history, shimmering sunlight reflects off of freshly mopped floors, aged tiles betray the skids and markings left behind as well-used furniture is shifted and repositioned. A gentle flutter is perceived as fresh sheets are crisply folded and stacked, the clicking and clanking of doors are heard as laughter and conversation gently wafts along hallways, and the powerful and rhythmic buzz of an electric saw echoes from a busy tool room.
Follow along with the YESS Facilities Team as they share a glimpse into days filled with a choreography of planning, craftsmanship, cleaning, polish, and care.