PEOPLE WHO CARE.
Children's Program Coordinator
"I recently had some kids come back and see me that I had been working with quite intensively. We worked on safety planning: how to help them to feel safe, and how to trust the people around them to keep them safe. We worked on a lot of self-regulation tools – deep breathing, muscle control, challenging their own thinking. They have since changed cities, they have started in new schools, and they’ve done extremely well. They’re completely different kids from when I first saw them. They’re more carefree. They’re now acting more like children. There’s a lot of peace there right now that I didn’t see at the start. I love that I get to give kids tools to make their lives a little better. I believe that – even though kids have experienced violence, that hasn’t written the rest of their story. There’s a lot that can be done to change their story. And that’s what I do – help them change their story."
"I work with people who have serious mental illness. They have substance abuse issues, trouble with the law, they're often homeless, or have acquired brain injuries, and so they kind of fall through the cracks. Sometimes it’s a matter of trying to connect with them until they trust enough. I might meet them for coffee, pick them up to do various things that they need to get done, sometimes I help them get on assistance so they have some money, or assist them with housing. Some of our clients have become alienated from their families because of their illness, so we try to connect clients with their families again. It’s very distressing for families, and they’re often a forgotten part of the system. I can think of one woman who wanted help for her daughter before she died, and I was able to help her with that. And so she died in peace knowing that her daughter would be cared for. It’s a real honour to be able to help people in distress. I mean, they’re sharing something of themselves with you that other people may not see. And that’s a gift to me."
"I’m a cook in a 40-bed facility. It’s like a nursing home, but for the intellectually challenged. I’ve worked there for 28 years. Through the years, it’s gotten to be more of a homier atmosphere. I enjoy providing healthy and appetizing meals every day for my residents. They look forward to each meal, and sometimes meal time is the best part of their day. I try to bring in a variety of food. We try new recipes to change it up a bit, and they really like that. The festive days I especially like. For St. Patrick’s Day, we have Irish stew and biscuits. For Christmas, we always have a Christmas celebration, and we cook turkeys. My goal is to encourage the residents to be the best they can be. They’re all different in their own unique way. We have a cafeteria-style kitchen, and while I’m working, the residents come by and talk to us, and we get to know each other. We have one-to-one conversations that make their day a little better and brighter. It’s a joy to go to work every day with people you like, and who like you."
"I have been a caregiver for 15 years. My clients all are of varying ability levels – some have Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy – and they vary in age from young-20s to, I’d say, late 60s. I tend to be drawn more to the people who are kind of alone – their families are gone or they are out of town. We spend more time together because I want to make sure they aren’t missing out on something. I am helping people who are able to live on their own but they need assistance. So, they need someone to come and teach them to cook, or teach them to clean their apartments, or teach them to grocery shop, or even to ride the bus – you know, basic living skills that everybody else takes for granted. I think for a lot of them, if they didn’t have someone coming on a regular basis, they would be in a group home where they wouldn’t really fit in – they are too independent to be in a group home, but they are not independent enough to have their own home. If our services didn’t exist, a lot of our residents would be stuck in a place where everyone is too busy to sit and have a conversation, or play cards. They would be just kind of a number, not realizing any potential, or joy. There would be nobody to get them to their activities or drum circle, or Sask. Abilities. There would be nobody to do these things."
"Our residents are young adults ranging from 18 years old to people in their 50s and 60s. All have a disability. The work we do is critical in helping our residents get up and enjoy their lives. Some of them can’t function independently, and that’s what we’re there for – to assist them. I love my job, and how my actions impact people’s lives every day. We help the residents get dressed and get out of bed. We transfer them to their chairs, make meals for them, and feed them. They can talk about their lives with us – we’re a listening ear. A proud moment was watching a resident attend her convocation. Knowing that I’m helping people to be included in all parts of society is the reward."
"I value the ability to provide a full life for the individuals we work with. This could be in the form of basic care and going out for activities. I will always remember when one individual was very anxious about everything in their life – when I drove them to see their family, they confided in me and talked about what they were going through in a very personal way. In that moment, I realized that they trusted me enough to know that I would not judge them or look at them differently based on what they said."
"My job is to work with the kids who are struggling at our school. Maybe they’re missing a lot of school, or their behaviour’s an issue, or maybe they’re not getting their work done. Some kids at our school struggle with the day-to-day stuff that other kids have support with. Some don’t have help getting up in the morning. Some don’t have parents helping them with homework. I help the teachers and the counsellors help the kids. And after the students leave, I help them transition to their community school by providing support and advocacy. I’ve got about 50 kids on my caseload.
I came to the school about eight years ago, because it’s a little-known school that makes a big difference in a lot of people’s lives. I really like the school, and I like what we do. We don’t just kick kids out of the school. We really help them experience some success, and that’s all we want."
"I run a Fine Option Program. That’s a program where clients are able to work off their fines instead of paying for them. If someone were to come to me with a fine, then I would give them a placement at a non-profit organization. Some of the placements are helping out at a soup kitchen, like the Friendship Inn, the Food Bank, or the Salvation Army thrift store. My clients are mostly the average working class citizen — lots of senior citizens, probation clients, single moms. Lots of people who have lost their jobs due to job cuts. I love that I get to help a lot of people, and that people aren’t being sent to jail because they don’t have the money to pay for their fines. Sometimes my clients get jobs afterward. For example, Downtown YXE — they pick up all the garbage, syringes, weapons from the downtown area. Some of my clients have actually gotten hired by them, so I’m quite proud of that."
"I love my job. The people I work with are adults with physical disabilities, and people who have challenges with mental development. Our work makes a difference because if we weren’t there, who would get them up, who would make their meals, who would feed them? I assist residents every day by providing basic care. This may be as simple as helping them get out of bed or cutting their nails. I love that I’m able to help my residents have a normal life, just like you and me, and that I get to help them achieve their goals. I feel proud when I see their happy faces and I’m able to help them continue going on with their day. We have a resident, who, through the years, put herself through school. We helped her in the morning get ready for school, and she ended up graduating, so that was a very proud moment for her and of course for us, too."
Special Care Aide
"I love helping people. I loved it so much that I quit the oil rig to come back, and I put myself through school to be able to do this. I took a huge pay cut so that I could do something that I enjoy doing – I haven’t “worked” a day in the last 15 years. I am hands on with the residents – I help them get up in the morning, help get them through their day, and assist them with any and every daily task that is required. My clients are mostly individuals with cerebral palsy. Sometimes I have encountered clients with Down syndrome. Some clients require more assistance, some are actually very active in society and are very independent. There is nothing more rewarding than to have a Joe* or a Carol* just look at us, and appreciate what we do for them. They can’t express it like you and I, but Carol* will look at you a certain way, or Joe* will laugh. They all have their own quirks, I call them. That is their own way of showing us, ‘we appreciate you, thank you for doing what you do for us because we could not do it on our own.’ It gives me a great deal of strength to overcome any challenges on any given day when I see someone like Joe* never complain or Carol* laughing her head off every day, but she can’t talk worth a darn."
*Names changed for clients' privacy.
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