On this week’s Employee Spotlight, where we feature the staff here and what they do; we have Praveena Soundararajan, our Data Specialist at The Storefront.
Name: Praveena Soundararajan
Job Title: Data Specialist
What do you do at the storefront?
Currently I am transitioning to a new role at The Storefront. My previous role was a Community Resource Specialist, where I connect folks to resources and information. I continue to support the Community Resource Connection team. My new role at The Storefront as Data Specialist falls under the Data Management and Evaluation circle (a.k.a department), which consists of Carolyn and myself. My responsibilities as a Data Specialist are to collect data and information to provide for funders as well as for internal use.
Favourite quote or motto you use?
“Practice makes better,” a revision of “practice makes perfect.” In my opinion, nothing is perfect. I think when you think of doing things perfectly, you put yourself in a position where you have high expectations. When you say “better,” you are trying to better yourself and improve as you go.
How did you come to work at The Storefront?
I’ve been with/working at The Storefront on-and-off for the past 15 years. When I was 17, I started volunteering at Storefront. Subsequently, through a summer youth employment program with Tropicana Community Services, I was placed at the Storefront. I absolutely loved working here and was hired as a relief staff afterwards.
I studied at Centennial College in their Law Clerk program. I liked the program, however, it didn’t give me a sense of fulfillment. I received encouragement and mentorship from our Principal at Storefront Anne, as well as other staff at that time. This inspired me to pursue my interest in social work, so I changed my program, and enrolled myself in the Social Service Worker program at Centennial college and then moved onto getting my Social Work degree at York University.
In my work experience, I worked in different areas in the social sector and also worked as an English Instructor in South Korea for 4 years.
What does it mean to you to be part of a Community Backbone Organization?
There are so many things that entails CBO, but one thing that resonates with me is what Anne Gloger says in the overview of The Connected Community Approach: What it is and why it matters mentions: “…the core community based process is based on convening, facilitating and sharing knowledge.” These are key practices that support the work I do, whether it’s a CRS or Data Specialist. It’s about connecting, supporting and sharing on all different levels, whether it’s individual, organizational or with policy makers.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid… There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says…”
This is a quote from a recent book I read called, “‘A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. It’s about the author’s personal experience of loss. You can see the author’s raw feelings, and his struggle/anger in his loneliness and faith, and how he comes to an understanding and acceptance. It’s an emotional book.
What do you enjoy most about working at The Storefront?
The people are what brings enjoyment to the workplace: the staff, the community members, volunteers, and our community partner agencies. Being able to come to work with a supportive team and having a sense of belonging at The Storefront is truly inspiring.
What is your favourite food or cuisine?
Top three cuisine:
- Sri Lankan/Indian (Curry of all kinds, especially my mom’s cooking)
- Korean (Fried chicken)
- Italian (Lasagna)
What is a project that you are working on at The Storefront?
One of the main tasks at the Storefront is compiling data for the organization. Currently we are preparing for a data blitz, as well as looking at survey responses from the community and creating reports to understand what the data has captured.
I am also taking part in the United Way Campaign with fellow staff, to bring awareness and create fun ways to do fundraising.
Apart from your work at The Storefront, what are some side projects or hobbies you have outside of the office?
I have been doing some home projects, I designed my kitchen layout at home, and I’m currently working on renovating that. It’s a slow process, but it’s a good way to keep myself busy during the weekends.
As for hobbies, I enjoy playing volleyball and badminton. I am also taking advantage of the outdoors while it’s still warm, so a lot of walking and hiking.
If someone were looking to join the team at The Storefront, or looking for work in a role similar to yours or in the nonprofit sector in general, what advice would you have for them?
If you love working with people, have compassion and passion to make a difference, the social service sector community welcomes you.
Where would you like to travel to/why?
Internationally, I would love to visit Sri Lanka. I never had the opportunity to visit my birth country since coming to Canada.
Domestically, I’d like to travel within Canada from East to West, we live in a beautiful country, I would love to see the scenery from different provinces/territories.
What is on your wish list for the next five years?
In the next 5 years, my plan is to do my masters in either Social Work or in the Arts. I know I want to pursue my education a little bit more, but I haven’t decided what program I want to enrol in.