The YANA Board of Directors meets monthly on the first Thursday of each month at the YANA office at 6:30pm with the exception of August and February. The first portion of the meeting is open to the general public. We welcome people to come out to learn about the organization and to share new ideas. Our Annual General Meeting is the first Thursday in October of each year.
Meet the Board of Directors
Kelly Rusk (President)
As a now-retired member of the Comox Fire Department, I first became aware of YANA when we chose it as the main organization of choice for our donations. I learned of how YANA touched so many lives through other members of the Fire Department as well as other Comox Valley residents I met during our fundraising efforts. When I was asked to become involved as a board member, I thought it was a great opportunity for me to give back to an organization that has given so much to the families of the Comox Valley.
Laura Bomback (vice-president)
I have been involved with YANA in various capacities over the years. It began in 1999 when my son was 3, and we were sent to Children’s Hospital for Diabetes training. I remain involved with YANA because I love that it is such a unique local charity that helps families stay together when their child is sick.
Gary Ardron (TREASURER)
My wife and I have supported YANA for a number of years as we recognized what a great organization it is and the role that it plays in supporting the needs of families with sick children in the Comox Valley. It became even more important to us over the last couple of years when our daughter in law went into labour at 24 weeks and was sent to the Womens Center in Vancouver. Our twin grandsons were born a few days later and many months later after an extensive stay in the neo natal intensive care unit we were able to bring home our one little grandson. YANA supported our son and daughter in law throughout this difficult time. I don’t know how to express our gratitude for this terrific organization. I have recently joined the board to try to give a little back and to help ensure that families going through similar circumstances continue to receive the support that is so needed during these times.
Rosanne Gerritsen (secretary)
I feel incredibly fortunate to be on the YANA board of directors. I started in October 2018 and I’m looking forward to the time I will spend working with some amazing people! I have been aware of YANA since about 2010, when I attended the Big Love Fundraiser. I was immediately drawn in by the cause and knew in my heart that one day I would like to be part of this organization. I was an elementary school teacher for several years and have a soft spot for kids, especially children and their families going through the hardship of illness. I’m happy the opportunity presented itself to join the board. I intend to do my best and whatever I can, to help YANA to continue to serve Comox Valley families.
As a long-time resident of the Comox Valley, I have heard many YANA stories and have experienced firsthand the compassion and generosity YANA provides to families in need. I was grateful to be asked to join the YANA board and I’m excited to give back to our community.
Helping others brings me joy, so joining YANA was a natural fit. I’ve helped with the Big Love Dinner/Auction for the past ten years, and the Kids’ Clutter Sale and love what YANA does for this community. Currently semi-retired after thirty-two years with SD71, working with students, staff and parents I loved organizing charitable events and watching the delight it brought to others. I volunteer with the local Relay for Life committee, taking on a co-chair role for the 2019 event, and helping with Tour de Rock events. I grew up in the Comox Valley and currently live in Royston with my husband Larry and our golden retriever Tula. We are fortunate to have both of our kids on the island and for the past twelve years we’ve opened our home to international students. When it comes to giving back the “Hunt Team” is made up of family, friends and international students and I am so thankful for their help.
I started volunteering to make Christmas crackers and discovered an amazing new family. I love YANA.
Profile coming soon
Profile coming soon
My first introduction to YANA came in 2002 when I was at BCCH with my newborn daughter who required an extensive stay there. We were fortunate enough to not require assistance, but because of my experience then, and talking to other families at the hospital who had needed to travel to Vancouver who did not have anything similar to rely on, I decided to help YANA through fundraising for the annual bike ride and other local fundraising events. When I was approached to consider being on the YANA board, I jumped at the opportunity. I look forward to giving time to help our local families who need to travel to obtain help outside the Comox Valley.
Meet the Staff
Kelly Barnie (executive director)
I have had the honour of working in nonprofit leadership for most of my career. I learned about YANA soon after my family and I moved to the Comox Valley in 2010. While working and volunteering in children’s sports, I kept hearing stories about how this wonderful organization helped local children and families. I heard about how the community rallied together to provide donations to make the support possible. To me, YANA represents exactly what makes this such an extraordinary place to live – families, friends, colleagues and community leaders helping, spreading love, and wrapping each other with caring and compassion when it’s needed most. I’m so grateful to be part of this inspiring organization that helps families access the care that they need, knowing their community has their back every step of the way. You can reach me at email@example.com.
shormila bakshi (Community Relations coordinator)
I have been lucky enough to call the Comox Valley home since my husband and I moved here from England with our two sons in 2008. I learned about YANA and the wonderful work they do soon after our move and our family started participating in the annual Ride with our sons cycling every distance from their first family ride to their first 100km in 2019. The mission and values of this organization are a testament to the sense of community and willingness to help that make the Valley such a special place to live. I feel both excited and privileged to have the opportunity to work with such an inspirational organization and play an active role in ensuring we are able to continue to help local children and families when they need it most, for years to come. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kourtney Van Velzen (Client services)
I have had the amazing opportunity to be born and raised here in the wonderful Comox Valley! Being from a Military family I have been lucky enough to touch ground in almost every province but always found a way back home here in the Comox Valley. With a family of my own now I can’t imagine raising my son anywhere else but here! From our small local farms, to the mountains, to the beach you can tick off all the boxes needed to live an exciting life. Being a part of the client care team with YANA is the ultimate blessing. I hope to help create a community of diversity, inclusion, and a sense of welcoming and respect for all who come through our doors little or big. We are here for you, always! You can reach me at email@example.com.
Andrea postal (SPECIAL PROJECTS)
I have been in the Valley most of my life, and can’t remember a time when YANA wasn’t a household name. In recent years we’ve had the privilege of taking part in events like Big Love, and as a family, we’ve experienced firsthand the gift that YANA is during a difficult time. I’m thrilled to be a part of the client care team to not only help fill the immediate needs families have, but to provide empathy and compassion to each family we have the privilege to serve, alongside this beautifully supportive community who keeps this amazing program thriving.
KELTIE SCHALM (YANA connects)
I am forever grateful that my husband and I are able to live in the Comox Valley, a community that is truly an amazing place to live and a great place to raise a family. As a busy mom of twins (plus 1 more) who once needed the support of YANA, they hold a special place in my heart and I knew that I wanted to be involved in working with such a great organization. Being a part of the YANA team is something that brings passion & embodies a work ethic second to none. It is an honour to support families in their times of need and be a part of such a loving and compassionate organization.