It's not every day you meet one, let alone two employees who have worked for the same organization as long as Maribeth Panes and Milagros Ong. Together, these Resident Care Coordinators have an incredible 62 years of service—careers they have spent caring for residents in Richmond. As they get ready to celebrate the next chapter in their lives, they took some time to reflect back on decades of service to the community of Richmond.
After arriving in Richmond from the Philippines, Maribeth began looking for work in health care. With a degree in Nursing and having worked in the OR in her home country, she knew she wanted to continue making a difference for patients here in Canada.
“I started researching and came across Richmond Lions Manor, a workplace I firmly believed would allow me tap into my skills set and have the opportunity to expand my role as a Leader," she says. “Little did I know the happiness, respect, and self-fulfillment in a work environment I had been dreaming of would all come true by being a part of this team."
Mil came to Vancouver Coastal Health because she knew that it was a place that really took care of their own and where she could make a difference.
“Our profession is very rewarding—not only financially, but spiritually as well," she says. “When you take care of the residents and they respond to you, acknowledge your help, or you're able to make them smile—it's a feeling that that money simply can't buy."
Thinking back, Maribeth and Mil both agree that what's kept them at Richmond Lions Manor all these years are the people—from colleagues to the residents.
“Working with the elderly gives me such pleasure and great satisfaction not only because of the care I can provide them, but also because of all the wisdom and life experience they in turn, share with me," says Maribeth.
“I love interacting, taking care of our residents at work—they're like my extended family," says Mil. “Health is wealth and since I'm a nurse by profession, I have the opportunity and the privilege to help others. I'm so proud to be a part of this team."
After a career working in health care and helping others, it's no surprise that these two will continue to give back once they retire—both with plans to do charity work. Mil plans to start 'Operation Flip Flop' to provide footwear to people in Bataan who can't afford footwear, while Maribeth plans to spend more time with her grandchildren—hiking, camping, and traveling—as well as getting involved in her local community through various church programs and organizations.
Their manager, Jo-Anne Kirk says it's been a pleasure to work with and to get to know Mil and Maribeth over the past 2.5 years – which is only a fraction of their respective 25 and 38 year careers in residential care.
“As Resident Care Coordinators, they have led from the heart and have touched the lives of so many residents, families and care staff over the years," says Jo-Anne. “Richmond Lions Manor Bridgeport won't be the same without them, but their legacy will live on with us. We wish them every happiness and many exciting adventures in the next chapter of their lives."
Lastly, Mil and Maribeth had a few last words of wisdom to share for anyone thinking about going into a career as a Resident Care Coordinator.
“In this line of field, you really have to learn and have this burning passion of caring for the elderly people, which not only includes the physical and emotional strength, but the compassion to listen to their distressed emotions and attend to their medical needs but also to really learn and know how to share love and laughter," says Maribeth.
“When you enjoy your work and your heart is full, it's easy to spend your whole career here," says Mil.