Jane Wachowich recognized as Calgary’s 2022 Citizen of the Year
June 29, 2022
The contributions of one of ACP’s public members of Council have been recognized with a prestigious award.
Each year, the City of Calgary presents a Citizen of the Year award to one outstanding Calgarian who has made extraordinary contributions as a volunteer or professional to improve the quality of life in Calgary. This year, Jane Wachowich, Public Member of ACP Council, was the recipient of this prestigious award.
Jane was recognized for her dedication to Calgary’s youth through her role as the founder and executive director of Youth Centres of Calgary (YCC). Jane comes from a professional career in corporate law and business. She moved into a new field when she found her passion helping youth in the non-profit sector.
“As a young lawyer, I had the opportunity to volunteer for two years in the inner-city housing projects of Chicago,” said Jane. “During that time, I realized that if kids have consistent access to food, a relationship with a trustworthy adult who cares, and a safe place to just be a kid, they will have the opportunity to thrive.”
When Jane returned to Calgary, she continued to volunteer her time at organizations that supported underserved youth. She eventually sat on the board of a youth centre and took the opportunity to run and update the centre. Three years later, after initiating new programs, increasing donations, and boosting attendance at the centre, she took a leap. In 2018, Jane purchased a home to be converted into a safe and welcoming space for youth, and in 2019, YCC was launched as an operational non-profit organization and began welcoming youth.
YCC offers free, non-denominational, and inclusive services for youth in a home-like environment, with a focus on at-risk kids in high-needs neighbourhoods. Each day after school, YCC welcomes 45 youth for non-scheduled, optional activities and opportunities to establish meaningful connections with supportive adults. Participants also have access to mentoring, homework help, games, sports, and music. YCC has also distributed 1,600 books and 539 pieces of sports equipment and, during COVID-19, provided over 150,000 meals for Calgary families in need.
Jane reflects that through the work she does at YCC, and through her work with ACP’s Council, she has been inspired by the dedication and hard work of other community leaders.
“We’re all in this together,” she said. “I’ve met so many selfless individuals through my work with the college and I can see important community work happening in all different kinds of ways.”
Jane describes her role as a “labour of love,” and she is quick to mention that she is one of many dedicated team members and that there are so many people working diligently to make YCC successful. When she reflects on the future, she hopes to take the YCC model and replicate it in other underserved communities in Calgary.
“All kids deserve to be surrounded by people who care about them,” said Jane. “There needs to be a levelling of the playing field – when kids are learning to make decisions and setting goals for themselves, they need and deserve support.”
To learn more about YCC and the organization’s work serving Calgary’s youth, you can visit their website. ACP extends a sincere congratulations to Jane and YCC for this well-deserved recognition.