How I Made It

Deanna Lentini, Grassroots Movement Founder

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How I Made It community builder Deanna Lentini wears a black sweatshirt with the words: Fix the 6ix on itDeanna Lentini; Toronto; @fix6ix

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

I am the founding director of Fix the 6ix, which is part of West Neighbourhood House, a social services agency in downtown Toronto. Fix the 6ix is a volunteer committee dedicated to serving the city’s homeless community using unique no-cost donation models. Our ReGiftcard program collects partly-used gift card donations and pools them together to purchase necessities and provide programming for Toronto homeless shelters.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I went to York University where I got my bachelor of science with honours in kinesiology and health science. This fall I’m starting at University of Toronto for my master’s degree in physiotherapy.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

Covering a one-year maternity leave position as the school secretary and aquatics director at a private school in Toronto. (I lifeguarded and taught swimming for years.)

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

When Fix the 6ix was on Global’s Morning Show last September. The host contacted us through our Instagram because he stumbled on our project and really liked it! I got a lot of moving emails after that from people who connected with the project.

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

After our four-week pilot project collecting gift card donations at York University, our team spent a day counting and cataloging $1,800 worth of cards. We were all really proud, but then later that night I found another couple hundred gift cards that hadn’t been counted in a separate box! I stayed up all night counting and cataloging them. By the early morning I found out that our total came to over $2,400! Lying on the floor surrounded in gift cards and watching the donation total creep up on my spreadsheet, I knew Fix the 6ix was going to work.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

I haven’t really hit my career stride yet because I’m still in school. But I think in the future my biggest mistake would be holding back from doing the things I really care about because of fear of failure. I believe that if you aren’t doing what you love, you’re wasting your time.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Do what you’re passionate about, because the world needs you to.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

Do what’s safe.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

Not yet!

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle/day job for extra cash? If so, what is it?

Fix the 6ix is all volunteer-run.

Would you ever leave Canada for a better job? Why or why not?

I don’t think I would ever be able to move out of Toronto. This city holds all my hopes and dreams and half of my heart.

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

That they can’t get off their phones.

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