Blessed at Work
When John Galay reflects on the village in Nepal where he grew up, what he remembers most vividly is the spirit of sharing that pervaded the culture there.
“I miss the people in Nepal. We shared everything,” he says. “Anyone could walk into another’s house unannounced, take what they needed and give what the other needed. People were poor but there was a strong spirit of sharing and being happy for all we had.”
The journey from his village to the capital city of Katmandu to western Canada is also marked by that spirit of sharing. An uncle helped him land a job with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in Katmandu. Through CIDA, he met a Canadian family and worked with them to care for their foster child who lived with a disability. In 1988, he came to Canada. He wanted to find work but his initial experience in this country was not easy.
“My biggest challenges were not having my high school diploma and not understanding how to navigate the employment system,” he remembers. “Things got a lot easier when I became a permanent resident.”
His experience with the Canadian family in Nepal helped him find work on the North Shore as a respite care giver and then full time work in a group home for people with developmental disabilities. By this time, his family had settled in Abbotsford and the long commute to North Vancouver was draining. But then he was introduced to Communitas Supportive Care Society, an organization that cares for people with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges.
I feel very blessed to be working for such a great organization. – John
“I met the CEO, who introduced me to Shelly Knuff, who is now my manager, and she put me in contact with Justina Penner, (the chief human resource officer at Communitas),” he remembers. “Justina was so kind, patient and gentle with me. I felt so good about our meeting.”
Justina knew right away that John would be a good fit for Communitas. As John shared his life story it was evident to her that John was grateful for the opportunity he had to live and work in Canada.
“As John shared what was important to him and gave examples of how he supported individuals, it was evident that he saw all people as equals and treated people with respect,” she says. “I felt that as an agency we would learn and be blessed by his witness and maturity.”
John was hired as a Residential Support Worker at the home managed by Shelly. That was 2002 and he’s been there ever since.
“It feels like it was yesterday,” he says. “We have a great team, a wonderful, understanding manager and a very diverse group of people.”
Working for a faith-based organization is important to John but he notes that everyone is welcome at Communitas. He also values the way that leadership within the organization is willing to share their expertise by training people on-the-job and to giving newcomers a chance.
“At Communitas you are treated with dignity and respect. It’s a diverse organization that accepts people from different cultures and countries. They are willing to give people a chance,” he says. “I feel very blessed to be working for such a great organization.”
John understands the challenges faced by new immigrants to Canada, especially when it comes to employment but he encourages immigrants to consider Communitas.
“I feel very blessed to be working for such a great organization,” he says. “I encourage others to apply and see if Communitas is for you.”