A room full of youth and seniors collaborating on a project is a gratifying scene for Donna Yateman, who just made Eastwood her home this spring.

“Making a strong connection between the seniors in our community and the youth is a very big interest I have,” said Yateman, after accepting the role of vice president for Eastwood Community League. “One of my big passions is bringing generations together.”

Elected to the position in early November, Yateman has ideas to not only create intergenerational bonds, but also forge neighbourhood connections around themes such as nutrition.

“I love meeting people, bringing people together with food,” she said of her new role in the community. “It would be great to see more short-term programming at the community centre, like kids programs, cooking classes.”

Yateman’s first volunteer position as a young girl was in recreation at a seniors facility, where she did what she could to enhance residents’ social interactions.

She was also leader of a church youth group for about five years, where she “spent countless hours organizing fundraisers in the community, having fun days, putting on Christmas plays.”

It was just a matter of synergy to bring the two demographics together.

“I would bring the youth to the seniors centre, perform masses together, sing Christmas carols,” she reminisced.

After all that volunteerism, it was a natural step for Yateman to enroll in a recreation and leisure services program in college, and later to join the school council during her son’s elementary years.

She’s been a welder, pipefitter, and quality control specialist in the oil and gas industry since returning to Alberta from Ontario at the end of 2002. She’s now ready to pick up where she left off in her volunteerism.  

Donna Yateman looks forward to creating intergenerational bonds and forging neighbourhood connections. | Kate Wilson

“I’ve not been part of any volunteering since coming back to Alberta. I went straight into oil and gas work, and with the amount of hours, you get wrapped up in your job,” she reflected. “When I slowed down, I really noticed I was missing that part of my life.”

She attended the Eastwood Community League annual general meeting on Nov. 7 to do more than learn about programming in her new neighbourhood.

“I knew I wanted to be part of the community, to volunteer,” said Yateman. “I want to . . . have an impact as close to my community as possible.”

As for a longer-term vision, she sees potential for establishing connections between university recreation students and the Eastwood Community Centre, with a focus on youth.

“A youth council would be amazing. I would like to see a strong connection established with schools in the area.”

In her new community, Yateman appreciates walking along the pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined streets. She grew up in the Londonderry area, and recalls visiting her aunt and uncle who lived within a few blocks of Eastwood. Her cousin still lives in the neighbourhood.

“As a teenager in Edmonton, I had family in this area and as such spent a great deal of time in the Alberta Avenue area,” she recalled. “The tree-lined streets are breathtaking in every season. There is so much character and green space. I am in love!”

Featured Image: Donna Yateman is the new vice president of Eastwood Community League. | Kate Wilson