Carla’s Story

Carla is a dedicated Fife House employee who wears many hats and is passionate about long-term HIV care and public health. She serves as Program Manager, dividing her time between the Sherbourne office and the Transitional Housing Program. She is also a Fife House relief and onboarding coordinator and Personal Relief Worker, addressing the unmet care and evolving support needs of our clients. There is not much she doesn’t do.

She explains that in the past, being diagnosed with HIV was considered a death sentence, “but now we’re dealing with groups who are living longer lives. I was fascinated by that,” she says, “as well as the fact that Fife House is the only organization that provides supportive housing to those living with the virus.”

Her current job helps her prepare for projects she is passionate about, such as creating a Mental Health Act in her home country. She explains that the health psychology component of her role propels this work. Aside from that, Carla believes it is her gift to help others.

“I work around the clock. I have a robust schedule. I answer emails in the morning, create a full itinerary for the day, and have regular check-ins with my team and clients to make sure they have the support and coverage needed – days are unpredictable, with long hours spent meeting with other program managers, training new staff, and sometimes jumping into front-line work, providing motivational counselling and other forms of supportive services and crisis management. When there is a crisis, I am the first to respond.” 

In the evening, she starts managing the PM shift, coordinating schedules and filling out paperwork detailing what transpired throughout her day, documenting her clients’ needs and preparing for the days ahead. She tells us that she doesn’t like getting comfortable with her roles.

“I am someone who likes to shake the table, I’m constantly looking for innovative ways to get us to the next step. I spend a lot of time assessing existing programmes, learning their needs, and proposing strategies to improve and restructure them to meet the demands of our clients, preparing them for transitions to more independent living”

She says since people are leading healthier lives with the virus, we need to tweak HIV service programmes to better serve our clients; this is how she has grown professionally at Fife House. By putting her skills to use in response to the needs of the communities we serve. We asked her if Fife House was the right environment for her to develop her career. She says “Definitely”

“For the longest time, our goal was to deal with a single set of clients, but that’s changed. Now, that the needs are different our client support services have become more personalized. At Fife House, I have the chance to give fresh ideas and suggestions; people here listen when I say this is the direction we need to go and this is the plan, and they provide you with the opportunity to make it happen.”

Moreover, Carla shares her thoughts in the the significance and passion needed to be a humanitarian frontline worker. In knowing that there are always a crisis and people in need we must provide support.

“[It is] not how much you’re going to be paid or how much incentive or if you’re going to be congratulated for it. That your work is being done because that person needs it [and] you are the [one] that can change that person’s life at that moment.”

Thank you for your dedication to Fife House. Our mission would not be possible without the passion and perseverance of our committed employees like you, Carla.

You can contribute to the valuable work that Carla and other dedicated staff like them at Fife House are doing to support vulnerable members of our community by making a one-time donation to Fife House or signing-up to become a monthly donor. Your contribution will directly support programs and services that provide essential support – including access to food/meals and other wellness services – to individuals and families living with HIV, including those who are unhoused/experiencing houselessness, mental health and addiction challenges in Toronto.