Over the past week, we have gotten to know Justin Dimoff, our staff originally working with Streetlight (and was beginning to transition the space to our “Downtown Hub” before Covid) and also responsible for our E-recycle program! In the weeks to come, we will continue to get to know various staff and volunteers over our social platforms. So if you’re not already, follow us on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Youtube — whichever virtual community you find yourself in! — at YFC London.
Justin joined our team eight years ago upon returning from teaching in South Korea. After being in the school systems, he discovered that his greater passion was to connect with the youths that were struggling, in ways he was limited from doing as a teacher. Now he is able to connect and do the journey with those students without grading them a pass or fail.
E-recycling came with discovering all the obstacles that these youth face to find employment, whether it’s not having a bank account, having a criminal record, or struggling with social anxiety. “(These barriers) are chaining these youth down to whatever potential they might be able to have in community.” Through E-recycling, the youth are exposed to community members and positive experience with business. It also creates an employment opportunity for youth who need to fill probation hours. “What’s cool is, as we’re working, there are moments all the time for God to show up and for me to speak truth and life and identity into these guys in real-time. Like, I saw what you did there. That was excellent.”
There are also lots of opportunities for creative solutions and up-cycling what’s donated. “Finding the hope and potential in every e-recycled piece!” Justin’s discovered this as an illustration of what working with youth looks like. “Looking at things that have been discarded and thrown away… And sometimes people can feel that that’s their life. That society has marginalised them and pushed them aside. That they don’t matter; they don’t have value…” James adds, “Everybody’s a human being. Everyone has purpose.” Justin feels blessed to be able to speak a new narrative into youth’s lives, “I’ve seen some pretty cool, dramatic turnarounds in how guys value their own lives and how they value others as a result.”
From working with the youth downtown, Justin was sad to learn how challenging it is for youth to connect with the support that is available to them. He learned sometimes they just need someone to go with them to bridge that gap, to embolden them in situations like courts and doctor offices. He was also impressed to find the bravery and resilience youth have in the face of traumatic life situations.
Covid has forced Justin to join those who are working from home while parenting full-time. He admits it’s been a struggle to find the balance between doing both as well as he’d like! But he’s grateful to have the time with his four daughters; everyone is healthy and full of energy. And he’s thankful for a stable internet connection as a lifeline between himself and youth, as well as video chats with partners to keep the whole team involved. Justin also credits his wife — who is a full-time student! — in sharing the burden. They have committed as a family to come out of this time not just surviving but thriving and stronger because of it.
During this time, Justin encourages you to reach out to the youth in your world. The novelty of a virtual world is beginning to wear off because it’s all they have. Reaching out “will ultimately have a trickle down effect and will catch a lot of youth before they start moving towards rock bottom.”
And if you’re purging and cleaning out your house, send us a message and we’ll porch pick up your electronics!
Click the link below for the full interview!