The Village of Humber Heights spent Nov. 21 and 22 celebrating the 10th anniversary of the opening of its retirement neighbourhoods just west of the Humber River in Etobicoke. It’s been a time of reflection for team members and residents as they consider how the village has evolved over the past decade to become a true community where, as general manager Pauline Dell’Oso puts it, “the social opportunities are endless and the freedom to meander is meaningful.”
In the six years Pauline has been with the village, she has seen many changes throughout the seniors living sector, always with sights set on improvements to quality of life. What has remained constant at Humber Heights, she says, is the “feeling of vibrancy” within the village. “Team members care and look out for residents no matter what neighbourhood they live on. It’s a family feeling, it’s warm and it’s happy.”
The dedication and commitment of the team members has much to do with the sense of community fostered in the village over the years, Pauline says. Several have been there since the doors opened. Laverne Levy, for example, started as a housekeeper before the first resident was welcomed, cleaning the last remnants of dust that lingered after construction was complete.
She’d worked in hotels previously and she instantly fell in love with the village when she began working there. Growing up in Jamaica, Laverne was always close with the elders in her community, she says, and that type of connection was missing in her previous work. At Humber Heights, she found it once again.
“I love their stories,” Laverne says. “I used to listen to my elders speak to me and tell me stories of their past, so coming here and meeting these residents, it lights up your life to hear about what they went through and so many different backgrounds.”
Frances Hamilton has served the residents in the dining room since Day 1, and like Laverne, she enjoys the special moments she’s privileged enough to share with each of them. She says no matter what may be happening in her life outside of the village, when she walks into work, she’s instantly at peace. She tries to respond to that gift with a kind word and a smile for all.
“I’m a people person,” Frances says with a smile. “I try to lift them up with a kind word.” The physical needs of residents may have grown more complex over time, she adds, but their desire for kindness in the service they receive remains a top priority. Sometimes a resident will approach her after a meal and offer their gratitude, and that is the greatest reward she could ever receive.
“To see that I made an impression in someone’s life, and know that I served them with patience and respect - I really do love my job,” Frances says. “I may wake up with aches and pains in my body, but as soon as I come in here, whatever is bothering me at home, is gone.”