Humans of the Varley: Ali Yu

In October 2001, my husband and I, together with the newest member of our family, our 3-months-old son, Nicholas, moved into the beautiful neighbourhood of Unionville. Many of our friends have asked: “What attracted you guys to Unionville?” My candid response has always been: “We loved Unionville Mainstreet.” Unionville Mainstreet is absolutely charming. It is filled with positive energy that creates a joyful atmosphere for each of its visitors. Everyday, we purposely drove through the street to and from work. But it was almost 11 years later that I discovered the hidden jewel of Unionville: The Varley Art Gallery.
It was already mid-June and I still had not found the summer camp for Nicholas. As a working mom, this was not a good place to be at. Fortunately, I ran into an ex-colleague and she mentioned to me that her daughter was attending the summer camp at Varley. There are summer camps at the Varley Art Gallery? That was music to my ears! As soon as I got off from work, I went straight to the red brick building on the corner. I was greeted by a friendly face who was in the midst of getting the summer camp program ready. I expressed my interest to sign up for every single week during the summer but was informed that all the spots had been filled. The lady kindly offered to put my name on the waiting list in the event of a cancellation. I welcomed the offer and went home with my fingers crossed! Two days later, I received a phone message from Varley Art Gallery and was informed that Nicholas could be placed into the first week of the children’s art camp. And, just before last day of school, I was able to register Nicholas for all eight weeks of summer camp at the Varley Art Gallery. My mission was complete!
On the first day of the summer camp, Nicholas was eager and excited to explore the gallery. Despite it being a brand-new environment, the friendliness of the staff members made Nicholas feel comfortable and very welcome. When I picked him up at the end of the day, he could not wait to show me his artistic creations. I still remembered, with a big smile on his face he proudly said to me, “Look Mama, I’ve made these!”. In that moment, I knew we had landed on the ideal summer camp for Nicholas. Throughout that summer, I was continuously impressed with all the artistic inspiration that the Varley Art Gallery program was able to provide to my son. For the following couple of summers, Nicholas continued to enjoy attending the Varley Art Gallery summer camps. Upon the age of 14, Nicholas decided to change roles and become a proud volunteer for the programs he had grown up fondly with. Since then, the Varley Art Gallery has always been his first choice for volunteering opportunities.
Looking back, the staff members at Varley Art Gallery have always played the role of “Big Brothers and Sisters” for Nicholas. I feel blessed that we have made this special connection with this fabulous organization in our community. Due to their strong-willed efforts, they have inspired my child and the children of our community to develop a sense of self, explore and love culture, excel at their individual creativity. A whole-hearted “Thank You” to everyone at The Varley Art Gallery!