A group of young people in a kitchen learning new cooking skills with Lana.

Our HYPA Housing program offers young people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness a safe and affordable mid-term housing option while they work towards moving into independent housing. Having a safe and secure home provides a foundation for young people to achieve their goals, gain life skills and build a positive future.

Lana was drawn to working with HYPA due to her own experiences in life. She has empathy for young people who haven’t always had things easy and have faced barriers to gaining their self-confidence.  

I volunteered because I wanted to help people that may be struggling like I did when I was young. I became a chef so I could get a decent meal, and now I know how important it is to have those life skills and how they can impact your life,” she says.

After the success of their first class, Lana was inspired to make them a regular activity and to work with young people to make recipes of their choosing. Lana hopes she can demonstrate how to make simple, tasty food not only teaching an important life skill but also inviting young people to experience the satisfaction that comes from cooking and sharing a meal.

“I hope that I can help people learn skills that can help them throughout their life, whether it be just how to make dinner, how to eat affordably or that they get to experience the feeling I get when someone eats my food and enjoys it,” she says.

Kitchen set up with ingredients to cook fried rice.
The meal was under $4 per serve and the activity was a huge success with everyone getting involved.

Choosing what to eat and how to prepare it is intrinsic to how we take care of ourselves and others. From her own experience, Lana says that when you’re young and you don’t know what to eat or how to cook, mealtimes can be depressing or stressful for many different reasons. She believes that teaching confidence in the kitchen can change this as well as contributing to young people’s wellbeing more broadly.

“If I can influence somebody, if I can help them in any way to feel more confident or better about themselves then that’s something I want to do. It’s something that would have made a big difference to me.”  

Volunteers like Lana work throughout many SYC programs, using their experiences and talents to help make a difference in the lives of the people we work with. We thank them for their commitment to effecting positive change and for their empathy and generosity in doing so.