They are the heart of Toronto Community Housing. The eyes and ears of our community.
The ones helping your neighbour battling depression. Assisting your friend who has mobility issues. Supporting the senior who has trouble speaking English.
They are the Resident and Community Services (RCS) team.
While most residents living in Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) live active and independent lives, there are some tenants who need special supports and services. Some may face mental health issues, others might struggle with social isolation, limited mobility or physical health problems.
This is where the RCS team steps in to help. They work closely with these residents to offer support and resources to help them get back on their feet.
It's a tough job, but it's an important job and one that helps bind TCHC to its communities.
Just ask Sherry-Ann Simpson, an RCS staff member who has been helping TCHC residents for the past 8 years.
While she has seen her fair share of cases, she remembers one resident whose story sticks out in her mind.
Last year, the Superintendent of a building visited a resident's home for a routine visit. He noticed that the resident was very withdrawn, had stopped taking care of herself and had not left her unit in a long time. Realizing that there was something wrong, he alerted the RCS team and asked if someone could come by and check in on her.
Sherry-Ann visited the resident to see how she could help.
"When I first met her she was very shy, very timid, very soft-spoken," said Sherry-Ann.
The resident revealed that she had been living with post-partum depression for the past 22 years. She also had several additional health issues that prevented her from leaving her home. In fact, according to Sherry-Ann, the resident hadn't left her apartment in the last five years.
Sherry-Ann offered to connect the resident to local resources and support.
"I think we connected right away. She told me that she trusted me and was willing to accept the help," Sherry-Ann said.
Sherry-Ann reached out to Toronto Public Health's Vulnerable Adults and Seniors Team. They worked together with the resident and helped connect her to a family doctor, a dietician and even helped the resident leave her home for the first time in 5 years to get a health card.
Just last week, the resident called Sherry-Ann to let her know that she was getting a scooter and would be able to move around independently.
"She's a completely different person now, she's more vibrant, she's moving about, she has more self-confidence. She's even slowly going out and interacting with her neighbours, forming bonds with her community and I think that's good for her and the community as a whole," she said.
"That's the most rewarding part of my job, meeting residents like her and seeing their transformation. Knowing that soon she will be scootering down the elevator is what makes it all worth it," said Sherry Ann.
Sherry-Ann says the resident still calls her often, giving her updates on her health and progress.
"She gives me an update every time she does something. She's very proud of how far she's come and I'm proud of her," she added.
There are countless success stories like the one shared by staff like Sherry-Ann.
Every day, RCS staff pour their hearts into the communities they serve, lending a helping hand to residents who need it the most. Often times, they are the one person that can help turn a resident's life around.
"As a staff member, I'm just doing my job. I'm not doing any less than what I'm getting paid to do. But as a person, as a human being, there's a great sense of pride knowing that I'm able to help another person through a tough time in their life and there's nothing like that feeling," said Sherry-Ann.
We thank our RCS staff for the tireless work they put in to our communities and the countless residents they have helped support. Your work is vital in helping building better, healthier communities across Toronto.
Read more stories and find information for Toronto Community Housing residents in the latest issue of the Housing Update. Download a PDF version of the newsletter here