Carmen Coelho remembers the first day she walked through the doors of Providence Manor at 18-years old as a dietary aide. 40 years later, she is the first person to greet you as you enter the home, working behind the front desk as the receptionist.
“Over the years, Providence Manor becomes like your home. Staff become your family and friends. Anyone that comes to Providence Manor – they see how happy people are here and that is contagious.”
Whether it’s answering phone calls (lots and lots of them), greeting staff, students, volunteers, residents and their loved ones or receiving and delivering mail and packages, she is often required to be the ‘knower of all,’ and is a multi-tasking extraordinaire.
“I always like a challenge. It can get very busy here between the phone ringing and greeting anyone that comes to the desk. You have to be professional. You have to watch your tone. It doesn’t matter if I am having a bad day or trying to juggle several tasks – customer service is very important in this job.”
Carmen is also responsible for alerting the home to any emergency codes, such as a medical emergency or fire. Pulling double duty with two part-time roles, Carmen is also a mail room clerk at Providence Care Hospital.
Over the last 40 years, Carmen has had roles in housekeeping, laundry and was an access control screener during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My first job here was as a dietary aide. It was a split shift – four hours in the morning and four in the afternoon. Whatever the residents needed, we did it! Back then we had these big warming carts that plugged in that were used to keep food hot. There were no dining rooms at the time, so it was a lot of multitasking, and we were all very busy. That food cart was so heavy, and we handed out meals, then would assist any residents with feeding.”
During Carmen’s years as a dietary aide, the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul were actively involved in the management and operation of Providence Manor and they had a separate dining area. She recalls taking her role very seriously so that everything was perfect for the Sisters.
As Carmen reflects on an incredible 40-year-long service milestone, she says it all comes back to the residents at the end of the day.
“I love being in contact with residents and their families and hearing their stories. I’ll never forget this one amazing resident who couldn’t pronounce my name quite right. He would call me Tarman. One day he said it really loudly in front of the reception desk and it gave all of us a good chuckle, he was always so happy and just wanted to make everyone laugh. I have a lot of good memories from many years spent here.”
A movie lover at heart, Carmen recalls many fun Friday nights, leaving her shift at Providence Manor and heading to Blockbuster and then home for a movie night with her three kids. They’re all grown up now, but that doesn’t stop her from curling up with popcorn on the couch for some down time before her next shift at the home.
Congratulations on your 40-year achievement Carmen!