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Strength in the Face of Adversity

22 years. That’s how long Milly Hernandez has been working as a personal support worker. The Carefor employee immigrated to Canada from Guatemala in 1992. When she first moved to Canada, she got by through running a home daycare and working as a minibus driver.  Seeing her mom work for Carefor, Milly was interested in a similar opportunity, and she ended up in contact with former Personal Support Services Manager, Nancy Mylrea, who offered her a position as a homemaker. Soon after, Milly had an eye-opening experience with Carefor.

Not long before immigrating to Canada, Milly had lost her father to suicide. She says that his death came after a battle with alcoholism, and that addiction runs in her family. She recounts her intense emotions as she dealt with the grief, saying “I was mad with my dad. Like, how can you kill yourself?” Milly was still coping with these feelings when Carefor offered her a position working in our Inner City partnership with Shepherd’s of Good Hope and Ottawa Inner City Health.

Because of her time supporting people at Inner City, Milly got firsthand experience interacting with people who face addiction. Supported by training from Carefor that focused on helping people living with addictions, Milly says that over time this new knowledge helped her contextualize her father’s actions and cope with the grief of losing him. “I started thinking, you know what? I shouldn’t blame him,” she says, “now I know this is a disease.”

This wasn’t the only obstacle Milly struggled with, though. While working with Carefor she was also dealing with an abusive relationship. She said that she was beginning to fear for her children’s wellbeing, and knew she needed to get help. She went back to Nancy Mylrea asking for advice on the situation. Nancy told Milly to take some time off and helped her find resources. “She gave me some pamphlets,” recounts Milly, “and I ended up going to the shelter because I needed help.” After getting back on her feet, Milly was able to return to work, something that’s very important to her.

You can see the passion Milly has for her work as a PSW. She speaks about it with tremendous enthusiasm, but you get the sense that’s just who she is. Now, Milly has been working with Carefor as a PSW for 22 years. She currently works with seniors, stating that what’s important to her is spreading joy to people and ensuring that they keep their dignity as they age. This is what inspired her to lead Zumba classes for seniors, looking for fun ways to help seniors keep their bodies and minds healthy.

Milly is well known for spreading joy among her clients, who take notice of the colourful outfits she wears to work. Even her bright shoes are part of Milly’s goal to bring happiness to everyone she works with. Milly says she’s grateful to Carefor for helping her pursue this goal: “[Carefor] really gives people the ability to change their life if they want. And if they have a problem… [Carefor] helps them with the transition.”

If you are interested in getting a job with Carefor, look at our Careers page. To learn more about our Personal Support Services, visit our In-Home Care page.