Meet the Chief night inspires youth cadets

It was a sea of blue, white and green uniforms as  hundreds of local army, air and first responder cadets gathered to hear stories of inspiration and experience from local “Chiefs” of law enforcement, military as well as fire and paramedic disciplines and giving youth leaders the chance to interact and ask questions of those who have chosen to dedicate their professional and personal lives to public service.

The Meet the Chief Youth Appreciation Night is the brainchild of Ryan Mitchell, a retired military veteran and active volunteer with fire services, military cadet and St. John’s Ambulance. The decision to put on this kind of event was informed by Mitchell’s own experiences both as a youth and as an adult in service.

“Though it was many, many years ago, as a youth, I was always fascinated with the roles and responsibilities of the Chief,” noted Mitchell. “Today, as a veteran with over 18 years in the military, I also recognize the burden of holding command.

“Taking into my considerations as a former youth leader, and now with children of my own, I wanted to start a yearly “thank you” event to these outstanding youths.”

Ryan Mitchell introduces the Meet the Chief panel

The panel format featured Mitchell moderating with participation from YRP Deputy Chief Paulo Da Silva, Deputy Chief Paramedic  Jeremy Watts, Deputy Fire Chief for Central York, Rocco Volpe, and Army Lieutenant-Colonel Matt Lennox of the Queen’s York Rangers.

Each shared the reasons why they entered public service – some more harrowing than others in the case of Da Silva whose inspiration came from being held at gunpoint during a robbery at a bank where he was employed as a young man. Da Silva explained to the engrossed cadets that from that moment on, “I decided that I didn’t want anyone else to become a victim” and to give back. The experience caused him to promptly change his studies from business to criminology and enter the service.

While the assembled cadets, no doubt, would not want such a sudden moment of inspiration, they were all able to gain some insight into the jobs that the panel do and in whose footsteps many might follow.


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