About

Testimonial

Hand Over Hand Community Organization is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering a community where people with disabilities will feel safe, accepted and supported through peer networks.

We started Hand Over Hand at a local high school in 2005 because there was a lack of peer-driven, affordable programs for youth with developmental disabilities in York Region. We want to harness the drive of other young adults to better our community by uniting and embracing difference.

Our continuing mission is to create collective understanding, empowerment and mobilization for young people in the community of York Region through awareness, peer-programming, and visibility. We maintain the goal to not only help fulfill the personal ambitions of our members with disabilities, but also address issues, such as education and accessibility within our society.

Why are we named Hand Over Hand?

In the special education field, ‘hand over hand’ typically means showing a student how to complete an activity by putting the teacher’s hand on top of the student’s hand to model the activity. We wanted to change this term and framework to suit our mission. Imagine a team of people in a circle, putting their hands over each other before a game to do a cheer. What our name means to us, is that peers can work together and support each other as a team to fulfill similar goals in an equitable way.

Board of Directors

Vinita Bijur has been a part of Hand Over Hand since 2005, when she was in her last year of high school. At the time, Vinita couldn’t think of any better way to make a difference in the world than by running Hand Over Hand with her best friends. She still can’t. Nine years, one undergrad degree and two jobs later, Vinita is ecstatic to be part of an organization that constantly strives to reach new heights. Her goal as a Hand Over Hand Director is to build a strong and dedicated volunteer base. She can’t wait to see what’s next.Vinita Bijur, President  

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Vinita Bijur has been a part of Hand Over Hand since 2005, when she was in her last year of high school. At the time, Vinita couldn’t think of any better way to make a difference in the world than by running Hand Over Hand with her best friends. She still can’t. Nine years, one undergrad degree and two jobs later, Vinita is ecstatic to be part of an organization that constantly strives to reach new heights. Her goal as a Hand Over Hand Director is to build a strong and dedicated volunteer base. She can’t wait to see what’s next.

Vinita Bijur has been a part of Hand Over Hand since 2005, when she was in her last year of high school. At the time, Vinita couldn’t think of any better way to make a difference in the world than by running Hand Over Hand with her best friends. She still can’t. Nine years, one undergrad degree and two jobs later, Vinita is ecstatic to be part of an organization that constantly strives to reach new heights. Her goal as a Hand Over Hand Director is to build a strong and dedicated volunteer base. She can’t wait to see what’s next.

Yuen Ngo, Chair yuen

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Yuen Ngo joined Hand Over Hand as a Director to launch the new Parent Support Program in 2013. She has an educational background in Nutrition Management and her work experience includes food service and early childhood care for children with and without disabilities. Yuen comes to Hand Over Hand with her unique and valuable experience as a parent of a son with Autism. She is knowledgeable in navigating services and advocating for her family and her son, and believes that having a support circle is important for other families to learn and to grow with their child. Her goal is to create a peer space for the HOH parents to encourage support and understanding, and to share ideas on new initiatives and solutions in the community.

annaAnna Chu, Secretary

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Anna Chu has been involved with Hand Over Hand since the organization began in 2005. She is a Director and Communications Executive of Hand Over Hand. She holds degrees in pharmacology and nuclear medicine technology from the University of Toronto. Anna joined Hand Over Hand because she felt that this would be an amazing opportunity for her to learn more about disabilities, and to create friendships while developing her communication and interpersonal skills. She hopes that Hand Over Hand can continue to provide a safe and welcoming environment where individuals of all abilities can interact, and to offer to people with disabilities, services that are unavailable or difficult to access in York Region.

mel1Melissa Ngo, Executive Director

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Melissa Ngo is a current Director and the External Partnerships Executive of Hand Over Hand, and is proud to be one of the co-founders of this organization in 2005. Melissa knew she would be involved in the field of disability rights from a very young age, and the passion she has garnered throughout her life continues to this day. She completed her BA in 2011 with a major in Equity Studies and two minors in Sociology and Linguistics from the University of Toronto, and has over 10 years of work experience with people with disabilities. Melissa is grateful for the community we have built together over the years and therefore strives to increase the networks within York Region to provide more accessible and safe spaces for people with disabilities.

rosaRosa Chu, Treasurer

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Rosa Chu has been a part of Hand Over Hand since 2005. She graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in pharmacology and nuclear medicine technology. She is currently a Director, and Fundraising and Finance Executive of Hand Over Hand. Rosa believes that Hand Over Hand provides a great opportunity not only for Hand Over Hand members to make friends and develop their social skills, but also for volunteers to improve their communication and organization skills. Through Hand Over Hand, she hopes to help raise awareness in the community about various disabilities, and to try to erase the stigma associated with disabilities so that everyone can be treated fairly and with respect.

Internal Operations Committee

sean1Sean Messenger, VP Internal Operations

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Sean Messenger joined Hand Over Hand in 2013 as a Junior Executive on the Volunteer Recruitment and Management team, and in 2014 he transitioned into the role of Senior Executive of the newly created Analytics Committee. He currently serves as VP Internal Operations. Outside of Hand Over Hand, Sean is a Principal Analyst for a medical device market research firm. Sean graduated from the University of Waterloo, specializing in Biotechnology and minoring in Economics. For fun, Sean likes to play the guitar and was a performer at Hand Over Hand’s very first Family Music Festival!

justin1Justin Chiu, Training and Development Manager

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Justin is currently a Masters student at the University of Western Ontario and he has been volunteering with Hand Over Hand since 2011 where he started as a general volunteer. Since then Justin has moved his way up to the Junior Exec position for Fundraising and Finance, then the Senior Exec for Volunteer Recruitment and Management, and now the Training and Development Manager! Over the years he has been given a great and fun opportunity to work with an amazing group of people, and he hopes to see even more join them!

michelleMichelle Chan, Volunteer Recruitment Manager

Michelle Chan joined Hand Over Hand in 2014 as part of the Volunteer Recruitment and Management Committee. She holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University, with a specialty in biomedical/biochemical engineering. Michelle commits her time to HOH because she believes that the work that’s been done by this team to build a strong and supportive community have been phenomenal, and she wants take part to guarantee that this important work continues. She also wants to ensure that volunteers gain rewarding experiences and are able to contribute and collaborate to a great cause!

Marketing & Communications Committee

annaAnna Chu, VP Marketing and Communications

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Anna Chu has been involved with Hand Over Hand since the organization began in 2005. She is a Director and VP of Marketing & Communications at Hand Over Hand. She holds degrees in pharmacology and nuclear medicine technology from the University of Toronto. Anna joined Hand Over Hand because she felt that this would be an amazing opportunity for her to learn more about disabilities, and to create friendships while developing her communication and interpersonal skills. She hopes that Hand Over Hand can continue to provide a safe and welcoming environment where individuals of all abilities can interact, and to offer to people with disabilities, services that are unavailable or difficult to access in York Region.

jason1Jason Xu, Social Media Manager

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Jason Xu is currently a master’s student at the University of Western Ontario. His research is in the field of neurobiology, more specifically in determining novel therapeutic approaches in treating stroke patients. He joined Hand Over Hand in the summer of 2011 as an event volunteer hoping to learn more about youths with disabilities as well as to become more involved in the community. His experience with Hand Over Hand has been overwhelmingly rewarding, and he was given the opportunity to extend his involvement by becoming the Social Media Executive. His primary goals at Hand Over Hand are to expand our reach beyond York Region as well as to establish a strong presence in the online community.

nanNandita Bijur, Web Content Manager

Nandita is currently getting her degree in International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa, but has had the opportunity to be involved with Hand Over Hand for over 7 years. She first joined as a general volunteer, and then went on to start a HOH chapter at Unionville High School. Through her university years she has been contributed to the organization by being a Social Media Executive, but is extremely excited to transition into the Web Content Manager role! She hopes to continue learning more about the experiences and lives of people with all abilities in the community through Hand Over Hand!

Member Engagement Committee

shaunaShauna Eisen, VP Member Engagement

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Shauna Eisen is a York Region native who joined Hand Over Hand in 2013 as the new Senior Executive of Events. In this role, she brings together her experience as an Occupational Therapist, background in event facilitation, as well as motivation for working with diverse groups of individuals. She believes social interactions are key to promoting cognitive, emotional and social development for any individual, and was thrilled to be invited onto the executive team to share this passion with others. As the primary coordinator of all internal member events, Shauna hopes to build upon the many strengths of past events and create new opportunities for volunteers and members to develop friendships, expand their abilities and most of all have fun!


natalie_colaiacovo_pictureNatalie Colaiacovo, Member Resources Manager

Natalie Colaiacovo joined Hand Over Hand in 2015 as Member Resources Manager. She hopes to apply her background in library and information studies to ensure that all Hand Over Hand members can easily access the resources they need. She is also responsible for coordinating Hand Over Hand’s Pen Pal Program and fostering relationships between members and volunteers. In her role, she is looking forward to developing connections with Hand Over Hand’s members to ensure that these two key services adapt and grow with the organization’s membership.

img_5113Raquel Burgess, Manager of Events

Raquel is a Kinesiology student at McMaster University and has been volunteering with Hand Over Hand since 2013. She began as a general volunteer, transitioned to Junior Executive and then to Manager of Events. She loves how Hand Over Hand is a peer-to-peer driven organization, as sometimes the only way to understand the needs of young adults is to be one yourself. Her primary goals with Hand Over Hand are to organize events that captivate and stimulate members and help them to meet their personal goals. She is constantly looking for ways to improve the event experience for members as well as to enhance their personal skill development. Raquel looks forward to another great year with Hand Over Hand!

Finance & Fundraising Committee

rosaRosa Chu, VP Finance and Fundraising

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Rosa Chu has been a part of Hand Over Hand since 2005. She graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in pharmacology and nuclear medicine technology. She is currently a Director, and Fundraising and Finance Executive of Hand Over Hand. Rosa believes that Hand Over Hand provides a great opportunity not only for Hand Over Hand members to make friends and develop their social skills, but also for volunteers to improve their communication and organization skills. Through Hand Over Hand, she hopes to help raise awareness in the community about various disabilities, and to try to erase the stigma associated with disabilities so that everyone can be treated fairly and with respect.

image-for-hohJordan Abrams, Sponsorship Development Manager

Jordan Abrams has been a part of Hand Over Hand since 2014 starting as a Junior Executive for Partnerships. This year he has taken on the role of Sponsorships Development Manager bringing a strong background in finance to the organization. Jordan is very actively involved in volunteering at the events as well as being engaged with the members. His primary focus is to ensure Hand Over Hand can continue to operate as a free service for the betterment of the community!

Parent Support Committee

yuenYuen Ngo, VP Parent Engagement

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Yuen Ngo joined Hand Over Hand as a Director to launch the new Parent Support Program in 2013. She has an educational background in Nutrition Management and her work experience includes food service and early childhood care for children with and without disabilities. Yuen comes to Hand Over Hand with her unique and valuable experience as a parent of a son with Autism. She is knowledgeable in navigating services and advocating for her family and her son, and believes that having a support circle is important for other families to learn and to grow with their child. Her goal is to create a peer space for the HOH parents to encourage support and understanding, and to share ideas on new initiatives and solutions in the community.

wendyWendy Lewis, Parent Engagement Manager

 

Our Friends and Partners

There are many people and community groups who have helped us along the way, and we believe there is empowerment in numbers. This is how we collectively make change happen. Please support them just as much as they have supported us.