When Gus Campos stepped into The Village of Winston Park to interview for a student placement position as part of his Conestoga College recreation and leisure studies program, recreation supervisor Sarah Linton says he settled in immediately. His enthusiasm for the residents and his belief in the impact a recreation team member can offer residents in long-term care or retirement homes was apparent right away, and his previous experience as a Personal Support Worker added to his broad skillset.
He was a natural fit for the Village’s Emma’s neighbourhood supporting residents who are living with dementia, and he was prepared almost instantly with a set of activities he wanted to offer.
“I could see he was already thinking ahead and kind of thinking, ‘how can I make an impact and how can I make things better up on neighborhoodrhood,” Sarah recalls. “I could see he was a natural fit.”
Though Gus is technically still a student in his final period of study, he accepted a casual position with the Village and they are eager to keep him as part of the team, which suits Gus perfectly. “I have experience working with seniors and I know the reputation from Schlegel is just a wonderful place to be with wonderful people,” Gus says. “It’s a good chance for me to experience and add a little bit to my community,”
Gus came to Canada from Brazil, and it seems the opportunity to work with seniors answers a calling that was missing in his previous career in international trade. He always thought his path would lead him to business, like his father, but there are also caregivers in his family and when he first came to Canada with the hope of improving his English skills, a family member suggested a PSW training course.
“I went to school and became a PSW and then discovered this amazing industry that supports people,” Gus explains. “I feel like I have like a natural connection working with seniors and it was just an amazing discovery for me.” He has since expanded that training to incorporate recreation and leisure studies.
Not only has the Village recognized the gifts Gus brings to the residents he serves, but Conestoga College also recognized him with two awards: the “Journey to Knowledge Award” and the “Greg Burns Making a Difference Award”. These awards celebrate the contributions recipients make to enhancing the lives of others and making their communities better places, which is something Sarah and the team see in Gus every time he’s in the Village.
“I feel a strong connection with the community and I believe that helping others is a way to help myself as well,” Gus says. “I feel very lucky to be in recreation because it's the kind of a place that I feel free to bring a little bit of my own personality, but also learn and discover with the people that I'm working with.”