Toronto, September 24, 2020 by Skills for Change
Skills for Change held its 38th Annual General Meeting (AGM) virtually on 24th September 2020, honoring the legacy of lost staff members, Roland Rhooms and Paulo Faria.
The first virtual AGM was called to order by Skills for Change Board Chair, Alex Petrovic presenting an overview of the Organization’s annual key operations, activities, Strategic Plan priorities and implementation with a focus on diversity through programs and people. The Board Chair also presented Skills for Change’s 2019-2020 Annual Report, highlighting some of the successes that the Organization has managed to register while pivoting to provide a suite of virtual programs and services to continue to meet clients’ needs during the pandemic.
“Skills for Change launched several new programs in 2019-2020, and funding for many new programs was slated to start in the 2020-2021 fiscal year,” Alex Petrovic, Skills for Change Board Chair stated. “These included expanding the Horticulture Pre-Apprenticeship Technician program in Hamilton-Niagara region, a new Women in IT program, Welding and Employment Skills Training Program and expanding our mental health services to support all clients.”
In addition to the new programs, the Board Chair reported how the long-standing programs had continued to thrive and show success. “Our integrated Immigrant and Refugee Services (IRS) Hub had an excellent year with many employment and wellness workshops delivered. We created new bridge2work programs through our employment services, and developed many new employer partnerships,” Alex Petrovic said. “Our Health Informatics, Accounting and Finance, Newcomer Entrepreneurship Hub and Skilled Trades programs all saw great success in delivery of programs and outcomes.”
In honor of the legacy of Roland Rhooms and Paulo Faria
Skills for Change also paid tribute to two phenomenal staff members who were instrumental in making its operations a success, and had sadly passed away in 2020.
Roland Rhooms was the Director of Programs and Services for the past 8+ years overseeing the IRS Hub (Settlement, Language and Mentoring programs) as well as Bridge-Training programs. Paulo Faria was Skills for Change’s IT support for many years. They both had a considerable impact on the work undertaken at Skills for Change. Roland Rhooms passed away on March 17, 2020 and Paulo Faria passed away on July 31, 2020
Roland’s death is a great loss for Skills for Change. He dedicated his time to mentorship and was a mentor for many of his colleagues at Skills for Change. He was also a senior member of the Consortium of Agencies Supporting Internationally Trained Persons and sat on several community roundtables including the Regional Diversity Roundtable of Peel. Roland was involved in many collaborative projects internally and externally, with a particular focus on ensuring internationally trained professionals’ skills and credentials are recognized and can fully contribute to the Canadian economy. He was an expert leader in sector knowledge in the community.
Roland joined Skills for Change 22 years ago as a facilitator/counsellor for the Sector Terminology Information and Counselling program. He held various management roles, including Manager of Programs and Services. As the Director of Programs and Services, he was instrumental in building new programs, having spearheaded the development of the Trades Win Support Program, IRS Hub, and the recently launched Welding and Employment Skills Training program, one of the last proposals he had developed. He was well-known and respected in the sector and developed many partnerships with colleges, universities, unions and community agencies that supported the work of the Agency.
Paulo was a kind-hearted aspiring scientist. An endless optimistic in his world view and approach to life who provided IT support over and above the call of duty, working tirelessly to help staff members or departments to resolve IT issues with his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.
Roland was a devoted husband and father to two children. Paulo lived a life full of joy with his partner.
Skills for Change CEO, Surranna Sandy opened the AGM’s emotional tribute to both Roland and Paulo acknowledging their dynamic contribution as an inspiration to staff for the many years to come.
“I am honored and blessed to have known Roland. He was a great mentor. I miss him so much already .
He was so proud of his children and wife. He was reminding me to take care of my kids and my husband. His family was his priority…
Remembering his wonderful and gentle soul will forever remain in my heart… I know even now, he is trying to remind me not to talk a lot. He was cheering me up at work and work is not going to be the same without him…
May he rest in peace…”
– Maryam Haraji
“Paulo was an aspiring scientist, a giving person who was endlessly optimistic in his world view and approach to life,” said Leandro Valente, Skills for Change IT staff. “He was a gentle guy who worked tirelessly and pushed the boundaries of the conventional. Frequently he would prove peers in IT wrong, with his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. Mostly, he was a true child of life.”