Paving the Way
In 1998, Suyeon decided she would pursue social work, looking to see how she could contribute to the Korean Canadian community in Toronto. Finding a need for counseling services, Suyeon established ”Korean Canadian Telecare Life Line” with Kaja Muhn and several board members in 1999, a new institution that was tailored to her background and experiences. To appropriately spread the concept of social service and volunteerism, and better serve her community, Suyeon became a certified Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist. As a female entrepreneur, starting a new not-for-profit agency was not easy. Even with her education and certification, Suyeon worked “as a volunteer for three years . . . and didn’t get any money” while the agency was still very young.
Today, the agency provides long-term counseling services to the Korean Canadian community, even beyond their arrival to Toronto. Suyeon trains volunteers, counsels families, and conducts prevention education and outreach initiatives. As a longtime insider within the community, Suyeon is able to adapt her agency’s services to meet the current and evolving needs of Korean-Canadians in Ontario, and Canadian society at large. One aspect she considers important is facilitating dialogue between different generations in the Korean Canadian community, which is Suyeon’s way of “reducing the generation gap” and providing leadership training.
FUTFS Annual magazines. Image courtesy of Suyeon Jin.
The agency is quite small, and Suyeon finds it “difficult to grow” as she “needs to do everything as volunteer coordinator, program director, counselor, and Executive Director.” Nevertheless, she persists, as she considers “this agency [her] child.”