Each year the Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley host a summer cruise on the Francis Barkley. LYNDON CASSELL PHOTOGRAPHY

Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley seek members, new partnerships

Next Alberni Connect event is Thursday, April 18

A group of Port Alberni young professionals is hoping to gain membership and find new ways to connect with the community.

The Young Professionals of Alberni Valley (YPAV) was formed in 2007 with the goal of cultivating a culture for local professionals in the Alberni Valley. Since its inception, the YPAV has been involved in a number of community projects and events—including a community garden, a bike rack project, public artwork and an annual sunset cruise aboard the MV Frances Barkley. Both Heidi Reinikka and Genevieve Huneault, directors with the YPAV, were drawn to the group as newcomers to the Alberni Valley.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who are new to the community, more of an increase in young professionals moving to Port Alberni,” said Reinikka. “That’s an opportunity for this group. We’re trying to find an avenue to connect with the community.”

“We’ve been seeing a lot of new faces at our socials,” added Huneault.

Along with regular socials and open houses, YPAV also hosts Alberni Connect—a networking event where keynote speakers discuss anything from natural resource tourism to First Nations leadership to health and wellness. The next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, April 18 at Chances Rim Rock at 6 p.m., will be focused on cannabis. The event will cover cannabis from an educational, business and legal perspective.

“We try to get multiple perspectives so we’re not soliciting just one opinion,” said Huneault. “We try to find as much variety as possible with our speakers.”

Overall, the group is focused on finding more collaboration and partnership work. A major collaboration with the Rotary Club of Port Alberni in February of this year resulted in the sold-out Jazz and Gin—a 1920’s speakeasy-themed social event.

“We wanted to have an event, but we didn’t have enough resources,” explained Reinikka. “We thought, why not pool resources. It was a super successful, sold-out event.”

“We have very similar values to Rotary, so that really aligned well,” added Huneault.

This year, for the first time ever, the YPAV is highlighting the success and accomplishments of young professionals in the community by handing out awards at their annual general meeting on May 2.

“We want to recognize these people and celebrate them,” explained Reinikka. “We also want to re-engage those who haven’t been involved in some time.”

There are three categories for awards. The Distinguished Alumni award will recognize the work and contributions of a past member. The Change Agent award recognizes a current YPAV member for their ongoing effort, vision and impact. The Valued Partnership award will recognize a partner organization of the YPAV for their ongoing support and collaboration. Nomination packages are currently available on the YPAV website. Nominations end on April 19, and finalists will be named on April 23.

New directors will also be elected at the AGM on Thursday, May 2, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Chances Rim Rock. This will lead to a “transition” phase for the group, but Reinikka and Huneault both hope to have more events up and coming. Although the YPAV elects directors, most of these directors don’t have specific roles.

“We’re pretty casual and collaborative,” said Huneault.

She explained that there is no real age restriction for the Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley. The average age range of current members is around 28-36 years old.

“A lot of people think the cutoff is 40,” said Reinikka. “But there’s no longer an age restriction. If you join, there’s a strong linkage to supporting a community of young professionals.”

“We’re looking for the ‘youthful at heart,’” Huneault laughed.

If you are interested in joining, you can send the YPAV a message on Facebook or check out their website at www.ypalbernivalley.ca. Membership is $50 per year, but it offers some perks, such as discounts to local businesses and an opportunity to attend special events and training sessions.


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