Holly Mast has been with Communitas since 2017. In those years, she’s explored several different job opportunities with the organization. Along the way, she’s learned a lot about herself and about the people she serves.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that this is my job field,” she says. “I love working directly with people. I have a lot of fun at work and I really do like it.”
Holly has worked with people of all ages, from children to seniors. She’s worked in day services and done shift work in a home setting. She’s been a manager, with all the responsibility that comes with that, and she’s worked directly with people. She’s even had the opportunity to help start up one of Communitas’ services for children. Holly has served as a mental health worker, community inclusion worker, an assistant manager and manager, and as a support worker – the role she currently holds.
Some may be surprised that Holly gave up a management position in order to return to work that puts her back on the “front line” with people. For Holly, that’s been one of the great learnings.
“When I was a manager (of a home,) I found myself always migrating out to where the people were in order to be with them,” she says with a smile.
Even though she recognizes the importance of the manager’s role, the responsibilities of administration are not Holly’s happy place. But one of the things she appreciates about Communitas has been the opportunity to explore different jobs, each one giving her a chance to see what fits her best. While each role has had its own unique challenges – “that’s just life” – Holly says that really, the biggest challenge has been finding her fit.
“What I love about Communitas is that I have been able to explore my gifts and figure out what I want in a job,” she says. “I’ve never been uncomfortable talking to my program director or to people in human resources about the kinds of opportunities I’ve looked for.”
The people she has served along the way have taught her a great deal as well. Patience and a different way of seeing the world or communicating one’s needs or emotions have all been things that Holly has come to appreciate.
“I’m learning to hold things a little more loosely and realize that something that feels like a big deal really might not be at all,” she reflects.
One of the big surprises for Holly has been the discovery that something she thought she’d never do has simply become part of the daily routine in her job. In her very first interview with Communitas back in 2017, she told the recruiters that she didn’t think she’d ever be able to provide personal care for someone. She remembers one recruiter responding, “yes, that’s what everyone says.” Holly’s first jobs with Communitas did not require personal care but today she serves in a home where the people do need help in this way. She’s come to realize that it’s not as big a deal as she thought it would be.
“When you come to care for someone, you just realize that this is what’s needed to help them get on with their day,” she says. “It’s not about you, it’s about them. It’s just what you have to do so that you can move on to the fun stuff – like going to Whistler for the day, or the zoo, or to a concert. People can hardly believe the things I get to do as part of my job.”
In fact, explaining what she does for a living might be the biggest challenge that Holly faces. But when she does start talking about her work, her face lights up: it’s clear that she loves what she does.
Holly’s experience has shown her that a career in social services is one that comes with opportunities because there is so much variety. Communitas serves people with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, and acquired brain injury. There is variety within each of those areas from office work, to day work, to shift work. Even within a specific type of service, like home living options, there is variety as well: some homes are quiet, others more energetic. Some serve people who live with higher medical needs, others do not. For anyone considering a career with Communitas, Holly’s advice is simple: go for it.
“As long as you like people, there’s definitely a position for you,” she says. “You just have to be open and willing to try.”