Humber Heights Success Award Winner Describes Nearly Two Decades of Service
Natalee Chambers has been a fixture with the team at The Village of Humber Heights since its first Long-Term Care residents were welcomed in 2005. She was a fresh Personal Support Worker then, newly arrived in Toronto from her Jamaican homeland and just out of college.
Natalee chose to pursue a career as a caregiver as a way of “giving back,” she says. She reflects upon a different point in time when her grandfather’s health was failing back in Jamaica, and her family didn’t understand then how best to support him. “I didn’t think I did justice to him because of lack of knowledge,” she explains, “so I told myself this would be my quest to make up for it.”
She has lived that quest through nearly two decades of caring for others at Humber Heights, and she was recognized with a Success Award in 2022 for her commitment to always follow through with those she serves and works alongside.
Follow Through is one of five key pillars of the Schlegel Villages CONNECT The Dots customer service philosophy along with Build Trust, Know Me, Be Present and Walk in My Shoes. These credos are the foundation of team member support for residents in the Villages, and within even a short conversation with Natalee, her dedication is clear to see. What she says is what she does, and she always has the interests of the residents at the centre of her focus in Village Life.
Her family’s lack of knowledge when her grandfather was living with prostate cancer stays close.
“We didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” Natalee says, “and there’s a part of me that has to live with that to make sure I follow through with everyone else.”
She laughs when it’s pointed out that she has several stand-in grandparents in the Village now.
“Too many of them sometimes,” she says with a jovial chuckle, “but they are all so good!”
As she’s cared for countless residents over the past 18 years, she is also raising three children – 14, nine and six – and she is now at a point where she can work towards advancing her career opportunities. She’s currently studying to bridge her training from a PSW to a registered practical nurse through Conestoga College, which she admits makes for a busy schedule.
She does it because she gains so much from her time working with residents, though, especially those who are living with dementia and require an extra level of patience, empathy and compassion.
“No matter how bad my day is, on a personal side, if I come here, I guarantee you . . . once I come in the door, these residents will do something to make me laugh and I feel better,” Natalee says. “You look forward to coming in daily to see what’s going to happen next.”
She works with an extended family, she says, as another team member chimes in to agree and they both start talking about the evening they have planned for a dinner out with a group from the Village. They try to do it at least once a month, Natalee says, and one can appreciate how close a group of people become in such a community.
“It’s hard work,” Natalee says, “but it’s different. You have to come because you have a passion for giving.”
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