The ‘Million-Dollar Man’ of Tansley Woods

Jordan Simpson’s shift in the main dining room at The Village of Tansley Woods doesn’t start until 8 a.m. but by 7:30, he’s weaving in and out of the tables making sure everything is order before the residents start to arrive.

Jordan stands between two ladies laughing as her serves them breakfast. In the midst of his preparations, he takes a few minutes to fold cloth napkins in preparation for the dinner tables’ cutlery roll-ups – in a dining room that serves breakfast to 75-100 residents and many more for lunch and dinner, preparations look at least a couple meals ahead.

By 8 a.m., the pace of the residents’ arrival has picked up, and Jordan and his two fellow dietary aides, Parik and Prabhjot, are already moving quickly, though methodically, to be sure people have their preferred juice in front of them.

Penny is in the kitchen, plating the meals for all to be sure each person’s needs are met.

Coffee and tea are priorities, and Jordan knows what each person needs with their preferred morning pick-me-up. The kind lady at table 5 needs lactose free milk, the gentleman at table 12 likes 4 creamers; one lady has enough sweet-and-low on her plate to sink a barge, and Jordan knows them all.

Jordan first came to Tansley Woods in 2019 as part of a high school co-op placement. Jordan is autistic and he really seemed to get a lot out of that first placement opportunity, so another followed. Mike Killip, the Village’s Director of Hospitality, recalls the conversation with Jordan and his parents after that second placement ended, and when asked what his plans for the future were, Jordan said he planned to continue to work in the Village.

In the time since, Jordan has flourished and he is now working up to a full-time capacity.

He speaks about how the team brought in a special birthday cake for him and how he shared his favourite doughnuts as part of a fundraiser for the special Olympics floor hockey team he was part of. With joy, he recounts his time at the Blue Jays game during a Village outing.

He’s become part of the family and it’s clear on this busy Wednesday morning that he takes pride in the service he offers.

“The staff here are very nice and the same with the supervisors and the residents,” Jordan says. “I like to talk with them and they do nice things for us.”

He sings under his breath as he floats around serving or cleaning, and when he scours the soup pots at the end of his shift, the team likes that Johnny Cash songs play from his phone’s playlist through the speakers in the kitchen.

When asked if he had any career aspirations in high school, he says he wasn’t sure.

“That’s why they have co-ops,” he says, “so you can see what you like.”

He likes it at Tansley Woods.

Through the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan “was rock-steady and one of the team members that was here through thick and thin,” Mike says. It was a difficult time in the healthcare sector, to say the least, but Jordan never wavered in his service to the residents. Jordan says his mother’s influence as a nurse of more than 35 years may have played a part in that.

With the residents all satisfied and spread out in the wider Village, the tables are cleared, cleaned and reset for lunch and Jordan and the team are ready for a break. Before he says goodbye, he’s asked one more question about what he sees in the future.

He’s not sure college would be the right choice for him, he says, as it was for some of the other people he went to school with, but he would like to be an actor one day. For the time being, however, he’s right at home with Tansley Woods in his future, and Mike and the Village team are grateful for that.

“He’s a really cool kid,” Mike says with a broad smile. “I can’t adopt everybody that I hire, but he’d be at the top of my list. He’s like the million-dollar man for me, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”