Since the pandemic started, most of our admin staff have been working from home. Although we’ve been apart, we’ve also learned more about each other than ever before!

Some of those discoveries include hidden talents like music-making, hooping and crafting. We’re sharing some of them with you so you can get to know our team better and to celebrate their creativity. Read on!

Alva Tang (Individual Giving Manager)

Instagram: @alvasweetsxo

“I love food! I love eating and discovering new spots, but I love baking as well. I’ve always been a huge sweet tooth and I love being able to make my own creations when I’m baking (who doesn’t love eating batter/dough?!) Unless it’s something completely new, it’s quite rare that I’ll use a recipe! While I’ve been a baker for as long as I can remember, the pandemic has really reminded me how much I love it and how much of a stress-reliever it can be. Music, dance, and baking will always be my favourite three hobbies! <3”

Melanie Hiepler (Education Coordinator)

“I make rugs out of upcycled fabric. It’s always bothered me that much of our clothing isn’t made to last: T-shirts stretch out after a few washes. Sweaters pill. Jeans inevitably wear out, always in some unfortunate and unpatchable spot. It’s disappointing, and frankly a little disturbing, that many of our textiles have such a short life span. Enter the rag rug! I started making braided rugs out of old jeans a few years ago. Recently, I built myself a twining loom and started to weave rugs. I find rug weaving to be quite grounding (pun intended!), as it’s a very tactile activity that gets me away from my computer screen. It’s a satisfying project: I get to create something that’s both beautiful and useful, and that keeps perfectly useable fabric out of the landfill. Win-win!”

Stacey Menzies (Business and Employee Relations Manager) 

“When I feel the need to be creative, I pick up my iPad and play around with some drawing apps. I generally draw whatever my nieces and nephews request and print them onto magnets, bookmarks or t-shirts for them to enjoy. It’s fun bringing their imaginations to life. Last year I was asked to create a character for the Education team. Inspired by Shakespeare’s nickname, we came up with Will the Upstart Crow! What’s next? Who knows! I guess we’ll see what my nieces come up with.”

Jocelyn Cartmel (Interim Box Office Manager)

“I never had much interest in pumpkin carving when I outgrew trick-or-treating – until I returned from living abroad in a culture where Halloween did not exist. I missed the Western holiday traditions that I didn’t have and couldn’t recreate while outside Canada. For my first Halloween back in Canada, and being thoroughly in love with the television drama Hannibal, I chose to carve a pumpkin using fan art I had seen. From that year onward, I have carved at least one Hannibal-themed pumpkin (because what is the spookiest night of the season without fiction’s most infamous cannibalistic serial killer?) and various other designs. Every year I tell myself I will choose less intricate designs, and every year I never do!”

Mary Hartman (Director of Education) 

“For me, knitting has it all. I find it really meditative, especially in stressful times. I can lose myself in my knitting, but I can also be social while I knit, hanging out with my family, even watching a movie together. Knitting provides a creative outlet and sometimes mathematical puzzles to solve. It’s a traditional craft with deep historical roots, but at the same time, contemporary knitters and designers are doing really bold new things. It connects me with my mother and all six of my sisters. Oh, and you end up with things that are beautiful or useful!”

Rhea Shroff (Artistic and Company Manager)
Instagram: @soulstrengthcounselling  
Facebook: Soul Strength Counselling 

“I have always been interested in people’s stories. Curious to understand what has happened in a person’s life to bring them to a particular moment. A couple of years ago going through a major life transition, I found myself in counselling and then in a program that resonated so deeply with me that I wanted to pay forward the healing I received.

I am constantly fascinated by the innate capacity that we as humans have to heal. I believe we have an internal strength or as I like to call it Soul Strength. When accessed, this can get us through circumstances that seem insurmountable. My favourite moment in therapy is watching a fellow human’s brain and spirit light up with the connections they have made. This transformative moment is when they realize that their strength truly lies within. I feel honoured and blessed to be witness to these inspiring moments in action.”

Cathleen Gingrich (Sponsorship & Events Officer) 

YouTube: (Er Kennt Die Rechten Freudestunden – Pacific Spirit United Church)

“I’ve sung since I was very little, in choirs and by myself. I followed this path all the way to a Master of Music in Opera from UBC. This past year has been a difficult one for performers – singers especially! But I’ve been fortunate to still have a creative outlet via my ‘church gig’, which is a regular position as a church choir section lead (I’m an Alto). Going from singing twice a week, to singing in my bedroom to a phone was an abrupt transition. A highlight of the last year is the duet I got to sing ‘with’ my best friend. We recorded at separate times but through the magic of editing we still got to sing together on YouTube! I am so hopeful that we get to do that in person in the near future.”

Jonathan Ryder (Production Manager)


“About 15 years ago, I started whispering in the ears of theatre friends, who I knew had played in rock bands, “when are we getting the band back together?” Building a myth so it might happen…!

I had not played in a rock band before. I had played Mr. Bumble in Oliver Gr 10, Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar in Grade 12 and always wanted to sing in a Rock band. Anyway, some of us got together and jammed songs while I shyly tried to sing… slow going. Then there was a fundraiser at the Yale on Halloween and we were booked to play. I dressed up as a Werewolf and sang Werewolves of London (did alright) and the Monster Mash and Welcome to my Nightmare where I played bass guitar. After that I started jamming regularly with John Murphy and Alec Willows – in a building which had a sign on the door: ‘J&H China Repair’. We always thought it was a weird idea to have a business that’s based on repairing china, but what did we know? And when we started to feel like a band that needed a name, China Repair stuck. And now that we’re rock stars who wear pink suits, we’re often asked where the name came from… whoops, full departure from reality there! Anyway, I’m writing this on March 8, exactly 1 year since our last gig, which was a fundraiser for Mitch and Murray Productions at Junction on Davie, just a few days before the lockdown. Miss playing music together!”

China Repair | (L to R) John Murphy, Tallulah Winkleman, Alec Willows and Jonathan Ryder. Photo by Mark Haliday (Moonrider Productions).

Kristin Szilvassy (Marketing Coordinator)

“I discovered hula hooping through some friends at university and over time became hooked! My first hoop was gifted to me by a friend and now (5 years later) I own fifteen hoops including a LED and fire one. You might be surprised to know that it’s not just for kids and that Vancouver is home to a vibrant flow community! It’s become one of my main creative outlets and happens to be a great form of exercise. Plus, it’s socially distanced approved. I’m looking forward to when we can gather again for music festivals and hopefully perform in person! It’s been a lot of digital streams lately…”