07 Aug Why GenNext?
Tiana is a Barrie communications professional, specializing in event planning and social media strategies. She is passionate about the ability of effective communications to elevate philanthropy, enhance donor stewardship, drive strategy and improve leadership. Since graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2018, Tiana has worked in Federal politics, as both a House of Commons and constituency assistant, where she managed strategic communications and event execution, while providing constituent support.
Tiana is also actively engaged in the GenNext planning committee. With a successful cooking class last Fall and a speed networking event coming in September, we asked Tiana a few questions about GenNext.
Why did you join the GenNext planning committee?
I thought joining GenNext would be a great way to get involved in the community alongside like-minded young professionals. As a Communications graduate, I am always looking for ways to further enhance my experience and gain practical skills that I can use, both in my personal and professional lives. I have a strong passion for public relations, organizational effectiveness, strategic planning and philanthropy, so the event planning elements of GenNext was a perfect fit!
Why do you think GenNext is necessary in Simcoe Muskoka?
GenNext is a vital growth opportunity for young professionals in Simcoe Muskoka who are interested in giving back to their community. Although this region is a great place to live, like any city, there are many social issues that go unresolved, particularity food insecurity. As the GenNext committee continues to grow, the more influence we will have on changing our community and highlighting critical issues. A little help goes a long way, whether it be random acts of kindness, donating food and clothes or planning charity events.
What I like most about GenNext is that it’s a group of individuals in their twenties and thirties who are passionate about their community. These days, there are many negative and unwarranted stereotypes about Generation X and Millennials. GenNext enables this generation to express itself in a positive way, allowing us to show who we really are — passionate, innovative, driven individuals who want to make a tangible change, whether it be big or small.
How much did you know about food insecurity before you started planning the cooking class?
I knew that food insecurity was an issue in our community, however I wasn’t aware of the severity of it until GenNext. What surprised me most was that 1 in 4 households that rent their accommodations are food insecure, which would include a significant percentage of students. Given the large number of students who attend Georgian College, food insecurity is very real issue in our community. Many students are unable to work during the school year and have no income, which is something I can relate to.
Another statistic that took me by surprise was that 70% of households reliant on social assistance in Canada are food insecure. Food insecurity is a pressing issue, and while it may not always be visible, it’s happening in our very own community.
What was it like planning the cooking class? What were some challenges or things you weren’t expecting?
I had a lot of fun planning the cooking class and it was so gratifying to see it come to successful fruition after a few months of planning. It is always interesting seeing how an event evolves from the first committee meeting to the actual event. Despite scheduling challenges for our busy committee members, we always made our planning sessions work, utilizing teleconferences and meeting minutes to stay up to date. Everyone believed strongly in what we were doing and were always willing to step up and do their part.
What was the event like? Do you think that it achieved GenNext Simcoe Muskoka’s goal of a social event for social good?
The event was a cooking class, targeted towards students and newly single member households. It raised awareness about food insecurity in Simcoe Muskoka and taught us how to stretch our grocery budget without compromising our health.
The event was well attended; everyone was engaged and had a great time. I learned tips and tricks along the way as well. The gift bags, which included a GenNext cookbook, allowed people to take home a piece of the event. The cookbook included common food alternatives, measurements, recipes, and grocery lists.
As a former student, I definitely would have benefited from a program like this when I was in school! Shopping and cooking for one was a struggle, whether it was buying too much food or too little. GenNext did an amazing job in raising awareness of a pressing issues and shining a light on the reality of food insecurity in a way that would resonate with the target age group.
What are you looking forward to next with GenNext?
I am looking forward to planning our next event and am hoping new faces in our community will join! Like I said before, I love seeing how an event comes to fruition. Everything starts with a simple idea yet has a lasting impact. Even a small pebble makes a big ripple!
Why should people join GenNext?
If you’re looking to get involved in your community in a meaningful and engaging way, GenNext is the team for you! It is such a welcoming environment where all opinions and contributions are encouraged. You can gain tangible life experience, strategic planning, and new skills.
A big thank-you to Tiana for sharing her experience with GenNext. You can find Tiana on LinkedIn.
Want to get involved with GenNext? Click here to learn more and receive updates about upcoming events and the good that we’re doing in Simcoe Muskoka. Active on social? Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on United Way Simcoe Muskoka and GenNext.