Someone once asked Leila Thiessen what her dream job would be. After reflecting, she responded that if Austin and Alexander were roommates in a residence, she’d love to manage that home.
Fast-forward to today and that’s exactly what Leila is doing as the manager of Matthew’s House. This is the home that Austin, Alexander, and Jadacey share.
“I love working with people, especially young people,” she says. “I just want to see them thrive.”
Leila’s story with Matthew’s House began two years ago when she was hired as a Residential Support Worker. She has a background in healthcare and ambulance services as well as management in the hotel industry. As she grew into her work, her leadership skills were recognized and she was offered an opportunity to take part in the Manager-in-Training (MIT) program offered by Communitas, the organization that facilitates Matthew’s House.
“I learned so much through MIT,” she says. “It was a really informative experience.”
One of the things she really values about her role as a manager is the big-picture perspective that it gives her and the opportunity she has to advocate on a larger scale. Communitas’ person-centred approach to care resonates with her both in terms of how she and her staff team care for the people they serve but also how she responds to her team, setting the tone for how they deliver that care.
“I love it that we are all here because we believe in Communitas’ mission, vision and values and I love it that I can hold people accountable to that. That is a gift.” – Leila, manager at Matthew’s House
Having worked as a front-line staff person also gives her a unique understanding of her staff. She is proud of her team and appreciates the passion with which they each approach their work.
“They all innately care for the people we serve,” she says. “You can teach a skill but you can only model compassion. This staff team really cares and are always looking for ways to improve the quality of life for Austin, Alexander, and Jadacey.”
That Leila loves the young people who live at Matthew’s House is absolutely clear. When asked what she appreciates most about each one, she takes a moment to reflect, a smile forming on her face.
“I have quite a connection with Austin,” she begins. “He is a deep processor and when he’s given an opportunity to choose, you can see the joy it brings out in him.”
Alexander reminds Leila of one of her own children – the redhead. “Alexander is tenacious and has a great sense of humour. He is also really sensitive. He pays attention to people.”
And when talking about Jadacey, Leila’s face just lights up. “Jadacey loves everybody. She responds to kindness and gentleness with pure love.”
As she reflects on her work with Communitas and Matthew’s House, she says she knows that she is exactly where she needs to be.
“I firmly believe that I am where I am in this moment because I believe in Someone greater than me,” she says. “I love it here and I know that this is where I belong.”