Meet Sharon, one our residential staff at Monica Place.
I am a mom of two awesome human beings and I have been married to my best friend for 20 years. I am passionate about mental health and social justice issues. I’ve worked at Monica Place for 8 years and I love working here. Through volunteer and paid work, I have managed to ‘do what I love’, for the past 25 years, in various capacities- supporting mental health, children & families.
What does a typical day look like on the job?
As Residential & Program Coordinator no two days are the same. I am the first staff person that residents see greeting them each day. I am responsible for the overall day to day programming for the young women we serve, for residents and community students.
Each week I facilitate education sessions for our young women- typical topics could range from sexual health to parenting skills, healthy relationships and skills-based teaching – like how to access the local food bank or use our local transportation system. I liaise with our local Public Health unit who deliver the prenatal health program; we work together to meet the education & support needs of our group. I work with other community partners in our region, most recently I am representing Monica Place on the Waterloo Region Integrated Drug Strategy.
Another rewarding part of my job is to work with our residents on goal setting and Plans of Care, and offer practical assistance as needed (for e.g. as a member of Residential Staff team, if a baby comes home from the hospital I assist with hands on coaching, teaching and support).
What do you like best about your job?
I love my job, and being able to support people to reach the goals they have set for themselves. The most obvious perk is being able to cuddle babies and delight in them, but I also thoroughly enjoy the challenge of working with teenagers at a chaotic time in their lives, helping them define what they want for themselves and their children, and how to get there. Offering encouragement, compassion and hope to a young mom who may be feeling unlovable or alone, being able to walk with someone as they journey from feeling confused to empowered.
I feel lucky to be a part of a strong team of caring, skilled individuals, working together for one common purpose. Working with youth, I feel privileged to be a part of young women’s lives at such a critical time when there is so much opportunity for positive change, growth and optimism. I feel honored to share in their lives when they are at their most vulnerable. I truly enjoy working with young people and watching the rapid growth and change that they are capable of. They teach us a lot too if we take the time to listen.
What are some of the challenges?
Helping people navigate a complex system with the limitations of poverty, or lack of resources and supports is hard. It can be very complicated and intimidating. It is very hard to try and level the playing field for those who are disadvantaged, we need to be savvy to try and provide useful and appropriate tools and linkages.
Another challenge we all struggle with is to resist the urge to “do for” rather than to take the longer term approach strategy to teach and build young peoples’ own confidence and competency. This way when they leave they truly have a foundation of new skills to build off of.
Some days can be emotionally or mentally exhausting; bearing witness to the pain of others, supporting people as they process difficult or painful subject matter. It can be challenging work, but it is nothing compared to the struggles they have faced and survived; the challenging parts are in balance with the life-affirming, rewarding and inspiring moments.
What do you do on your time off?
Relaxing with my family is my favorite thing to do, enjoying laughs together. Watching late night hosts roast politicians, quirky podcasts, reading medical journals and reviewing legislation, learning as much as I can. I love documentaries.
I am an avid history buff. I enjoy research and can often be found researching family trees, relishing stories of survival and grit. I love art and seek out opportunities to blend my passions for art and mental health. I love camping and canoeing but don’t get out as much as I would like. I will continue to learn to paddleboard. I look forward to welcoming a new puppy to our family in the near future.
Unexpected skills that would NOT be on Sharon’s resume
- Evil eye for lice! Sharon even volunteered at her school for lice checks!
- Spinning wool by hand
- Searching for a vintage Airstream trailer to restore
- Cutting glass by hand, soldering lead
Thank you Sharon for all that you do for Monica Place families. We appreciate you!