At 25, Samantha has accomplished more than most young adults her age. She was recently appointed chair of the Coast Capital Fraser Valley Young Leaders Community Council and as chair, she has been passionately working to create and promote youth-oriented programs for the community.
The chair is made up of three councils, one in Metro Vancouver, one in Vancouver Island, and one in the Fraser Valley and is run by eight youth, aged 19-30. Four of the members are active volunteers in the community who have partnered up with four Coast Capital employees. A Coast Capital employee herself, Shepherd says the focus of the council is to give youth a sense of belonging, as well as to promote youth initiatives through community grants.
“We feel it’s really important for youth in anything that they’re going through to feel a sense of belonging. If they feel that, they’re usually quite successful and are able to get through any kind of hardship,” says Samantha.
This year, a 1.5 million dollar grant will be divided among all three councils and the funds will go to support initiatives such as building social belonging programs, financial literacy, education, sports programs, and physical and mental health awareness.
Shepherd’s true passion lies in justice initiatives. Through the council, she has had the opportunity to aid anti-bullying groups, teach kids how to get through bullying, and encourage their peers to stand up for one another.
Her volunteerism extends back to when she was a child, growing up in South Surrey. She was always heavily involved in her community and credits her father and mother for inspiring her to help others.
“My father built his own company in the brokerage industry and I’ve always been very impressed by what he’s been able to do from a career perspective. My mother has always been involved with various groups in the community and has been such an inspiration. They just both have the heart of giving back.”
A heart that Shepherd has evidently, inherited.
The future is bright for Shepherd. She is finishing her degree at Thompson Rivers University, and is currently working on her Chartered Life Underwriter Designation. In addition to her educational endeavours, she recently became engaged and has a wedding to plan this summer!
Shepherd has a few words of advice for youth looking for a way to get involved in their communities and make a difference.
“Keep your eyes open. There are always opportunities that come around. Make sure you’re aware of those opportunities and not stuck with one set goal. Open your mind to see what is out there.”
Check out my full interview with Samantha Shepherd below: