Just thirteen years ago, a fourteen-year-old boy named Gat arrived in Canada from South Sudan. The middle child in a family of eight, Gat was the only one to make the trek to North America and start a new life here. He fell in love with Canada.
Today, Gat works at Closer to Home as a Family Support Worker in the West Central Community Resource Centre. Every day he goes the extra mile to support families in ways they may not even realize they need. We sat down with Gat to find out a little bit more about him and what his community means to him, even when he’s not working.
What’s your favourite part about your job?
Relationships. It takes a lot of time to build bridges with clients and with other community members, but when that bridge is built, it gives you an opportunity to fill that gap that a client may be in need of. Relationships are definitely what I enjoy and they last a long time.
What is the best success story you’ve had here at Closer to Home?
Working at the resource centre, every day you encounter different situations with different clients. But I think my best success so far would be last year’s summer camp. It was my first experience here – I’d only been here one week and I was given the responsibility of running summer camp. And I’d never run a summer camp in my life.
It was a big success and I was so happy with the outcome – kids experiencing things they never had before. We had a grandpa come from Egypt last summer, he was visiting, and he got the opportunity to go to the Calgary Zoo. And even though it’s a grandpa’s experience, I think that kind of captures our vision: keeping families together. The camp was for kids, but parents and even grandparents are encouraged to be involved and had an amazing experience as well. So that’s one of the things that stood out, and still stands out for me.
What do you think makes Closer to Home special?
I think the name of the agency itself describes what makes it special. I’ve worked in non-profit for almost seven years now, but Closer to Home has a different kind of environment – with staffing, with teamwork, with external networking. It makes my job easier and it gives me more energy to do more and to help others.
What do you like to do on the weekends? What are some of your hobbies or interests?
I used to be a basketball player. I played basketball a lot. I was a better soccer player than a basketball player. Actually, I used to captain my high school team. But right now I have different hobbies – as I’m growing, I’m becoming really involved in my community. I organize a youth event in my community on the weekends, and of course I have kids so I have to make sure I have some time to take them to the parks and playgrounds and whatnot. But I’m very passionate about making sure my community is growing in a positive way, especially with youth. Many of them look up to me. I don’t have my alone time like I used to, because I feel like it’s time to give back to others who need it.
What would you be doing if you weren’t working in social services?
Politics. Even right now, I do a lot of volunteering during municipal, federal or provincial elections. I volunteer in political rallies, door-knocking, campaigns, all that. So that’s my other side.
And lastly, how do you define success?
My personal definition for success is positive outcomes and results on your goals. That’s when you know you succeed. You can set a goal, and it can take you years, but when you finally get that positive outcome, that’s success. In our field, I think success is when you go beyond what a client needs or what they have requested. When you can give them more hope and help them set more goals. That’s what makes your job successful, I think.