My name is Patricia Sekutowska. I would like to introduce myself as the newest employee of SpencerCreo Foundation and share how grateful I feel to be a part of this team. The Foundation’s mandate is ‘to create and support transformational opportunities for individuals.’ This couldn’t be more in line with my own values and how I believe that being front and centre – supporting the instrumental changes that individuals choose to make in their lives – is my purpose for being. My professional background is in addictions counselling which I was doing for the last 5 years. When this amazing opportunity to work at SpencerCreo came my way I was thrilled to continue broadening my professional horizons, while simultaneously recognizing that I would need to shift gears and become teachable.
My title is ‘Employee Services Specialist’ and I’ve quickly recognized that this role is all-encompassing. It is about more than employment, it is about helping individuals overcome whatever obstacles may be in their way to become employable and self-sufficient. For so many years, I loved what I was doing, but in hindsight I was working for organizations where I had to put the organization’s agenda over the folks I was working with. At SpencerCreo, we have no agenda. It’s all about how can we help those in need and essentially where can we be of maximum service to the community. One of the most rewarding aspects of it is that I actually get to meet people where they are at, serving to help meet whatever goal or need they have.
During my first month, it became apparent to me that the ways we support are boundless. As one of my peers was training me, he brought me to one of his client’s homes. This woman has severe disabilities, both mentally and physically. She had asked us to come over and put a computer chair together for her. Neither of us were particularly skilled in the department of putting things together, but as a team we made it work and figured it out. I asked him if this is the kind of stuff that he normally does for people. He replied, “No, but who else is going to do it for her?” My colleague shared with me that he had been working with this woman for about a year and that he is willing to do whatever he can to support her in finding a better quality of life. It’s truly about: how can we help?
Some of the unchanging services that we provide on a consistent basis include housing assistance, mental health support, finding appropriate cultural connections for those interested, helping folks meet their basic physical needs, and navigating a system that seems intimidating on the best of days. In certain instances, those that we work with need a specific task accomplished, and other times they may just need an ear to listen or a moment where they feel understood by someone. The work that we do here is relevant and purposeful to the demographic of people that we work with: folks who are highly stigmatized in our system, that may actually be in need of the most support, rather than what often happens with injustice and oppression.
In my short time at the foundation I have observed our Program Manager, Tara Taylor invest in the community so deeply that you would think her life depends on it; she has pure selflessness and care for others. I have watched my peers interact with folks that they have built relationships with, truly listening and exuding real compassion. It’s genuinely inspiring and once again I’m reminded of how grateful I am to be a part of it all.