The YANA Board of Directors meet monthly on the first Thursday of each month at the YANA office at 6:30pm with the exception of July and March. 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 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.
Gary Ardron (vice-president)
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.
Marcel Moose (Treasurer)
When I learned about the amazing ways YANA helps families in the Comox Valley I knew I wanted to get involved. Being on the board allows me to see how much of a difference YANA can make first hand. We are truly lucky to have YANA as part of our community.
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.
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.
I love that YANA is local and I want to contribute to this group that helps provide support for families who need to travel for medical care for their children. The last thing people in crisis need is to be worried about finances and accommodation. I get emotional just thinking about it so I can’t imagine living through it. Our community has been so helpful and being a part of sustaining that support is my goal.
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.
YANA holds a particularly special place in my heart because of its sole commitment to sick kids and pregnant mothers. As a mother of a son diagnosed with leukemia, I understand the emotional devastation and financial burden that families are faced with during a time when their only focus should be their child’s health. I first became aware of YANA when I moved to the Valley in 2008 and saw a local transport truck with the YANA logo parked in the ferry line-up. Since then, I have come to learn of the vast work YANA does and how much love this community has for YANA. YANA’s presence in the Comox Valley and the support it receives from the community it serves (for over 30 years), speaks to the incredible need for this type of service in our Valley. This obvious community love and support is the reason why I wanted to get involved. I want to help other families who might need some extra support during challenging times and offer any help I can. I am so proud to be part of this dedicated YANA team and look forward to getting to know the families we serve and the amazing supporters we have!
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.
YANA is a fantastic organization that embodies the true spirit of community. I’m inspired by the passion and dedication that the staff, volunteers and community show in supporting Comox Valley families. I look forward to being part of the commitment that continues this work.
Meet the Staff
Left to right: (Back Row) Lesley Hunter (Board Director and Office Volunteer), Kelly Barnie, Joan McCaughey, Keltie Schalm, Andrea Postal
(Front Row) Kris Johnson, Shormila Bakshi.
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.
Joan McCaughey (family Services, relief staff)
I lived in the Comox Valley for most of my life and raised my 3 children here. During that time I was well aware of YANA and the wonderful work the organization was doing in the community. In 2009, my job took me to a small town in the Okanagan. Three other Rotarians and I saw a need for an organization such as YANA in that community and the Highway to Healing Support Society was created using YANA as a model. In 2016, I returned to the Valley and had the good fortune to arrive right when YANA was looking for someone to join the client care team. YANA is a wonderful asset to the Comox Valley and I am truly honoured to be associated with it.
Kris Johnson (family Services, relief staff)
I moved to the Comox Valley in 2006 and began working in the non-profit sector shortly after. I soon became aware of YANA and I was both inspired by the support YANA offered to families as well as the magnitude of community support driving forward YANA’s vision. In 2013, I was hired on contract as YANA’s Community Relations Coordinator. Although my son was quite young, I could not pass up the opportunity to be a part of such a wholesome and valuable community organization. After my contract ended, I turned my attention to my family and the birth of my second son. Through the years, I have volunteered on the YANA Ride Committee and have always kept YANA close to my heart. I am so grateful to be returning to YANA in the role of Client Care Support and for having the opportunity to link the amazing efforts and love of the community to our local families needing support.
Andrea postal (family Services, relief staff)
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.