Sasha is a person who cares deeply about people.
As a child, he could not walk past a person on the street who was asking for money without sitting down beside them and striking up a conversation. It felt odd to his child-self to be taller than the person seated on the ground – Sasha instinctively wanted to be at the same level, to interact as equals. When he got his first paper route and began to earn his own money, he often felt compelled to share it with someone whom he felt needed it more.
“I’ve always had a soft heart for people on the margins,” he says. “My faith is integral to me and I can only say that this soft-heartedness must come from God.”
This passion to help people, regardless of their circumstances, led to Sasha’s decision to seek education to become a social worker. It also led him to Communitas Supportive Care Society where Sasha works in two areas, serving people living with mental health challenges and people who live with developmental disabilities. The work and education complement each other well.
“I will learn something on Monday and put into practice on Tuesday,” he says. “I am learning so much, both at school and at work.”
One of the things Sasha loves about his jobs at Communitas is the flexibility he enjoys. During the school year, he stays on as a casual staff person, working no more than two days a week. When he’s off for the summer, he works full time, picking up as many shifts as he can. He’s grateful for managers who are willing to accommodate his desire to work and learn. He also loves that his work is as diverse as the people he serves.
“Every day is different and I love that,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot from the people we serve.”
When people ask Sasha what he does, his response is not what one might expect.
“I say that I get to go on adventures with people,” Sasha explains. “That might look different for everyone. For one person, it might be a hike on a trail they’ve never been on. For someone else, it’s a trip to the library. Whatever the adventure is, it gives people something to experience and talk about.”
That’s not to say that his work is without its challenges. As a problem solver, Sasha has learned that he cannot solve other people’s problems for them. Instead, he comes alongside a person as they make choices. His goal is to build rapport, find commonality, and earn trust.
Both school and work have taught Sasha the importance of language and its impact on the people he serves. He doesn’t “work shifts”, he “hangs out with people.” He doesn’t serve “clients”, he works with “people.”
“People are not my job, they are people,” he says. “The language we use makes people think of themselves in a certain way. I want the people I serve to feel heard, respected, and cared for.”
Both of Sasha’s managers appreciate the gifts that Sasha brings to his work place. Christina manages a transition home, serving people living with mental health challenges as they transition back into the community. She says Sasha comes to work with a positive and uplifting mood that is infectious.
“Sasha’s focus is always on the people he serves and makes sure that every person he works with is noticed, heard, respected, and understood,” Christina says. “He has so much to give and so much compassion and care for helping others.”
Wendy manages Communitas’ Community Inclusion services, supporting people living with developmental disabilities. She agrees with Christina.
“Sasha has two parts to him. One side is fun and energetic, the other side is so attuned to the people he serves that he connects with them on a deep level,” Wendy says. “He helps people to be more.”
For his part, Sasha is grateful for the opportunity to work as he prepares for a career in social work and for the opportunities he’s had to grow and learn both at school and on the job.
“Working at Communitas, with the people we serve, is so rewarding,” he says. “It’s a bonus to be paid to do work that I love.”