Y Story | Carina Urbani

"The Y staff treated us with constant dignity and respect, never letting us feel dejected or ashamed of our situation."

Carina Urbani

Y Family Shelter

Carina was entering her final year of high school when things started to unravel at home. After returning to Ottawa from a stay out west, her parents struggled to find affordable housing. For a while, they stayed with family members and friends, but they soon found themselves with nowhere to go.

That’s when they found the Y. Carina’s family lived in the Y’s Family Shelter while she completed high school, and her parents worked toward finding a permanent home.

“Although it was difficult at times to live in a shelter, everyone at the Y was so welcoming and nice!” Carina says. “It gave us a sense of normalcy again. The Y staff treated us with constant dignity and respect, never letting us feel dejected or ashamed of our situation.”

Carina spent countless nights studying in the lobby of the Y. Here, she could access free Wi-Fi to finish assignments, complete university entrance essays, and apply for scholarships. With the Y's support, she successfully graduated from high school and was even awarded with a $20,000 scholarship at her graduation ceremony.

After five months at the Y, Carina’s family found a home of their own.

“I am forever in debt to the Y and the support that they gave me and my family during a difficult time in our lives. They helped us believe in ourselves again.”

Carina’s Y story did not end there. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she participated in the YMCA Your Job Story program, an employment program that is dedicated to helping vulnerable youth overcome barriers to employment. The program enabled her to develop the skills she needed to secure a job in a field that she is passionate about: Human Resources.

Today, she works in the People and Culture Department at the YMCA of the National Capital Region as the People and Culture Assistant.

“I have the privilege of working with an amazing team where we work together to better the whole Y community. I am proud that my life story is entangled with the YMCA and that I can now work for the organization that gave me the chance and opportunities to succeed personally and professionally.”


With your support, the Y can help people like Carina access programs to support their physical, social and mental wellbeing. Give today and help your community grow stronger!

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