“My true calling is to support others,” says Stacey Murdoch.
Stacey manages Communitas Employment services, helping people with diverse abilities and mental health challenges connect with their community and find meaningful work. She says that the people she serves have taught her that everyone has a place to belong in both life and work. It is a lesson that Stacey herself has learned through her own unique and challenging journey.
Stacey was already working in the social services sector when, in 2008, a serious, traumatic experience in the work place changed her life. The incident impacted her mental health, leaving her unable to work. Thankfully, through years of counselling and therapy, she was able to uncover and work through the mental health challenges that she had unknowingly been living with since childhood. But just as she was thinking that she should consider how to get back into the workforce, another traumatic experience brought her to a halt.
In 2018, Stacey was on her way home from an extended motorcycle trip when she was in a serious accident that left her with a shattered leg. When she talks about it now, she talks less about the experience as a physical one than a spiritual one.
“While I was flying through the air, I felt like someone was holding me,” she remembers. “After I landed, while we were waiting for an ambulance to arrive, I literally heard the voice of God say to me: ‘use your life, I’m giving it back to you.’”
Stacey was raised in Jewish culture but she doesn’t practice the religion in the traditional sense, though she thinks of herself as a spiritual person. The accident transformed religion from being an external experience to an internal one. Still, hearing God’s voice was not exactly a common occurrence and Stacey paid attention. During her recovery, she gave serious thought to how she would use the life she’d been given.
I kept my ‘God-ear’ open and I knew that if I wanted to really hear from God, I had to stay with the question. – Stacey, employment manager
As she went through a WorkBC employment program, it was confirmed to her that working in social services was still the right place for her. She was introduced to Communitas Supportive Care Society, a faith-based organization that supports people with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, and acquired brain injury. The diversity of services offered, intrigued Stacey. When an opening came up for an Employment Specialist, Stacey applied and was hired right away. Even so, she wondered how she would fit in, given that she does not identify as a Christian.
“I had absolutely no hesitation in terms of agreeing with Communitas mission, vision, or value statements. All of that resonated deeply with me,’ she says. “But honestly, I have never in my life felt so much like I fit in a place as I do here.”
In the two years that she’s been at Communitas, she has felt that she can always be truly authentic both with her colleagues, her own manager, and with the people she serves. Recently she took on the role of manager for her department. It was a move that felt completely natural to Stacey.
“Truthfully, I think I’ve been a manager my whole life. Even in preschool, I was always making sure people were following the rules,” she jokes. “I have had so much support in this transition and I want the people I manage to know how much I care about them and how important they are to the overall success of our programs.”
She is passionate about sharing this work with potential employers as well. She feels it’s important for business owners to understand that people who live with diverse abilities are capable of doing many different jobs. She believes that everyone has strengths and the goal is to determine what those strengths are and then find the work to which they are most suited. She speaks from experience.
“I feel that my experiences in life have made me a very strong support person and my passion for helping others has grown even stronger since coming to Communitas,” she says. “I mean, I was literally called to this work.”