In the Comfort Life Spotlight
Deeply personal motivations guide the development of great communities, as shared here. Learn about the roots of leaders' personal commitment and what drives them to reach higher every day.
In our Inspiring Leaders Series, we interview visionaries driven by a passion for excellence that’s manifest in Canada’s most innovative retirement communities.
Karim Kassam, co-founder Optima Living [0:12]
Myself and my co-founder, Farid Damji, we've known each other for probably 30 odd years. Our wives are childhood best friends. Through that engagement, we [had many] lunches and coffees and dinners over the years, and we had actually intersected our careers, while he was running Vancouver General Hospital, and I was doing work in the supply chain of the Vancouver Coastal Health.
We started to talk about our common values, if you will, around the fact that we were both immigrants raised in multigenerational families, where the values of our grandmothers and grandparents were critical to our upbringing. In many ways, our grandparents raised us. Those conversations led us to think about, “How would we sustain the legacy of our immigrant grandparents?” In terms of our way of giving back and demonstrating gratitude to their efforts from moving to a new country, to helping us settle and to really sharing with us the values of living one's life through the ethos of ethics.
Marie-Josee Lafontaine, owner and operator, Scarborough Retirement Residence [1:58]
I probably started around 13 years old or 12 years old when I started to work my summers in a long-term care facility that was located in Rosebank [editor: this is a neighbourhood in Pickering]. So, that's really going back quite some time. Really having that kind of an experience that I was really lucky to have, [that] I'm very, very fortunate to have. I think it kind of gave me a lens that was a little unique, certainly a lens that was different from my friends as I was growing up. And it really introduced me to, you know, really my own [personal] call to action. I liked helping people.
I want to have a resident [who], when I hold their hand and I look at them and as soon as they say thank you. That's everything. It's everything there is nothing else gratitude for doing a good job. That's my raison d’etre.
Veronica Da Conceicao, general manager, OPAL by Element [2:26]
It doesn't feel like work to me at all. Being here and doing this for the last 30 years. I feel so grateful to be amongst all these residents that have so much history to share. That inspires me to do better. Any hardships that I have, I can overcome them. It’s just the way you see challenges and make [them] into a positive.
These residents, I'm telling you, they have so much history and so [many] life lessons. They can sit here and just talk to you and tell you about it. That's what really inspires me to keep going [in] this industry, [to] fight for the industry. Age is only a number.
Tanya Snow, director, Bria Communities [3:16]
When I see people that are happy, when I see people that are engaged in the community … when I walk into any of the communities, and I see that vibrancy, that's exciting. That shows me that the programs that we're implementing [and] providing are working.
When people come to meetings, and are speaking up, and are engaged, and feel comfortable and confident as they age, that's exciting!
Elaine Wood, former vice president of operations, Delmanor Senior Living [3:48]
One of the things that inspires me is seeing growth within our organization. So, seeing someone that may have started as a frontline team member, a server, for example, in our dining room and aspiring to be a general manager, seeing those leadership qualities. Seeing their level of enjoyment in working for Delmanor and helping our residents, that inspires me for the long term. I've been witness to that for over 10 years, to see many of those success stories take place. So, really growing our own great people to be future leaders. That holds your culture so near and dear, and it safeguards your culture, actually.