Gratitude from a rookie Desk Exchange Community Animator

Our Desk Exchange Community Animators are the heart of CSI. They work an eight hour shift a week in exchange for access to our spaces and network. We know it’s a program that changes lives, we hear that from DECAs all the time. Regent Park DECA Vishal Asthana recently wrote to Community Manager Denise-Soueidan-O’Leary about what the program means to him:

Hey Denise,

Thought of taking a few minutes (40 minutes to be precise!) to thank you for presenting the opportunity to experience DECAhood! Even though the time I’ve been able to spend on my weekly shift has been limited, I already feel like a CSI insider.

Sharing 10 specific things that have helped make this happen:

  1. Hands-on orientation from Jacqui on first day, first shift. She taught me well and I returned the favour by being the energetic and curious troublemaker rookie. Ask her. 😉
  2. Google Group conversations and the daily newsletter are priceless! Filled with fantastic info. It’s already helped me show up at a bunch of evening events, make new contacts, etc.
  3. Helping Ocean with printouts of my DECA@RP cohort. Learning how to use the photo laminator in the process.
  4. Ideating with Jacqui on lounge furniture re-design (she discarded all my ideas, but I kept giving them anyway…lol), helping make that happen, and sending mail updates to you et al.
  5. Helping Randy with find-the-key endeavour (I loved it and felt like a legit thief within the premises). Helped me learn about the existence of 15 office spaces and confuse some members (and say hello) who were working behind closed doors when I was trying to sneak in.
  6. Helping with the evening shutdown sequence on Fridays. Not sure why, but from the list of activities, tidying up the restroom, getting the Sandwich Board back up and throwing away Garbage feels as if I’m keeping my own house clean. Who would have thought!
  7. Random conversations with RP members are energising! Had one with Bear Standing Tall. Another one with Victoria. Quick chat with Rahel and the comic library guy. Met Craig at a recent start-up event. Series of chats with Fayola. Chats with Melvin, Ocean. Recent one with Leonard. List goes on..
  8. Diversity training and random lunch chat with Jenn@RP and staff from TechSoup Canada. Coming to know of through Tara and loving the concept.
  9. Celebrating Thanksgiving @ Spadina location. That felt like a giant reunion with a family who loves to talk and eat! Reconnecting with other DECAs from my cohort and from before.
  10. Attending a session on Agism/Elderhood at Spadina location. This topic closely resonates and is likely to be the area where I’ll setup my social enterprise one day.

To summarize, it feels terrific to be a part of the CSI community which wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t choose to bet on me! At the time, I claimed that you won’t regret it to which your response was that I’ll need to work extra hard to make a dent. Hope I’ve lived up to the expectations?


Are you a social entrepreneur or innovator looking to be part of a dynamic community? Do you love meeting new people and solving new problems every day? Would you exchange eight hours a week for a fantastic free workspace? The DECA program is perfect for you. To find out more about the program, click here!

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