It is so important to feel the connection – to have a ‘click’ – with the work that one does. Then it stops being a job, and becomes fun and enjoyable. Alana Ring-Woodard, Program Assistant at the Winnipeg Rental Network and one of our champion RentSmart Educators, has delivered 40 RentSmart courses in Manitoba since 2017. She finds being able to share her knowledge and to help people in their housing journey very fulfilling. And her work never gets old or mundane – every participant learns in a different way and every facilitation is not like the one before. We speak to her about what led her to pursue this career, what challenges renters in Manitoba face, success stories and more.
Alana, it’s amazing, you have delivered 40 RentSmart courses in Manitoba since the program launched in the province! You obviously really like it. Can you tell us what led you to pursue this field of work, and what do you enjoy most in facilitating RentSmart?
I am a person who has always loved to share knowledge and information. After being a Network Services Technician for 16 years, the opportunity to go back to school and receive my Diploma in Community Development/Community Economic Development was the perfect choice. Sharing the RentSmart curriculum is a life skill everyone should have. I love meeting participants and helping and sharing information they may not have.
How do you understand success in your work? What makes you feel accomplished?
Sharing, providing and helping one person with their situation makes me feel I have provided the resources for them to succeed. Knowing they will also be able share the knowledge with others as well.
Having engaged with so many renters in Manitoba, can you share with us some of the common challenges they face, and in what ways this education helps tenants to overcome them?
Common challenges the participants in Manitoba are having is fixing their credit, rental history, and references. They also experience challenges getting repairs fixed by their landlords. The education provided is helping participants to understand to document their requests, get receipts, letting them know there are other avenues and resources to assist them.
We all love to hear heart-warming success stories in our line of work. Can you share one from your experience?
One couple I had participated in RentSmart together, they had a lot of barriers and challenges with their landlord and their roommate. They went through the process of applying for places, and some were unsuccessful. This year we were able to help them find new housing with Manitoba housing. They are now more stable and happy in their new home.
Looking back at yourself when you had your first experience in group facilitation, or maybe even RentSmart course delivery, where you may have been nervous and worried, what advice or words of support would you give yourself at that moment?
Be adaptable! I began facilitating this curriculum by the book and trying to follow what I was taught, and I then realized the more I facilitated, I would change things around, add additional activities, or just sit down and have conversations. So I’d say, the more you facilitate and have fun, the easier it gets. Every facilitation will change depending on participants and things will change.
Tell us about your plans and goals for the future?
Continue to share knowledge to all. My goal is try and find more funding to sustain the program in Manitoba.