Lily Pang has always believed in the value of learning. Learning brought her to Canada in 2004 to complete a PhD, and learning is what led her to working with low income families at SouthWest Communities Resource Centre (SWCRC). Lily believes the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know, and that creates a life-long learning journey. Even when Lily is the facilitator, she puts herself in the role of the learner, which is what makes her exceptional at what she does. Lily briefly taught anthropology at the University of Calgary but made the change to adult learning when she wanted to feel like she was making a more direct impact on the people she was serving.
As a Family Education Specialist, Lily is often the initial point of contact for parents who go to SouthWest Communities Resource Centre. Her ability to build respectful, trusting relationships with the parents she meets allows her to understand their struggles and goals to guide them to the best solution possible. Through the relationships she builds, Lily is able to increase parental independence and confidence within the families she serves.
Lily doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all solution when working with families. She understands that every decision she makes will have consequences, both good and bad, and keeps that in mind as she looks at all options available for parents. She strives to make sure parents feel empowered to make the best decision for their family at that time. Rather than teaching formulaic solutions to parenting, she tries to shift parents’ perspective of their relationship with their children, enabling parents to take ownership of being a role model. She focuses on the family’s strengths, capabilities and competencies, and teaches strategies that build upon the skills parents already have.
Part of Lily’s job is to connect families with available social services. In many cases she is the person who introduces them to the process of accessing services. Lily helps families navigate the social services systems and ensures they are aware of all supports available. If by chance the service parents need isn’t available, it doesn’t stop Lily from trying to help.
In the fall of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, SWCRC saw a rise in Mandarin speaking parents accessing the centre. Lily worked with each of them to create a virtual group to discuss parenting strategies, all in Mandarin. Despite challenges in translating some concepts, Lily successfully created an environment where these parents could come together, converse, help each other and create new social bonds within a supportive community. This is just one example of how Lily aims to expand the parenting services offered by SWCRC.
Lily’s desire to add value at SWCRC doesn’t stop at creating parenting programs. She loves research and has a passion for data analysis. She has worked to make sure SWCRC is gathering the right data and evaluations to understand the impact the centre has on families’ lives, and where there might be gaps. She uses the data she analyses to improve the experience for everyone who enters the centre. And perhaps the most appreciated value Lily has added over the past year is the tech support she provides for her colleagues, she is the go-to person whenever there is a computer problem thanks to her supportive nature and willingness to tackle any problem.
As Lily finishes her Bachelors of Social Work degree this spring, she is already enrolled in a data analytics course, showing just how committed she is to her learning journey.