Our Stories

Featured Staff: Bre Brown

May 7, 2024

This past month, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Bre Brown to hear about some of their adventures over their past 20 years at St.Amant.

SF: Thanks for chatting with me! Now, tell me about your career path to get to St.Amant.
BB: I’ve been working since I was10-years-old. My first job was delivering the Winnipeg Sun at 4 am every day and then I had a ton of very strange jobs: roofing where I gained a lot of new skills, 7/11, I worked at restaurants and got a bunch of experience, then on last year of high school I pursued a healthcare aid certificate at Red River College, which led me to St.Amant during my practicum. It’s funny how life works out sometimes because I never planned on staying here initially. Nursing seemed like the natural path for me, but the genuine connections I formed with the people here changed everything.

Throughout my career, what truly mattered to me were the relationships I built with those I supported. I realized the importance of meaningful connections outside of paid services, whether it be with friends, family, or the community at large. This realization fueled my desire to support others in a different way, and that’s what ultimately led me to St.Amant, where I’ve found purpose and fulfillment ever since.

SF: That seems to be a common thread with many staff! So what have you done here at St.Amant?
BB: I did direct support in Health and Transition Services for 15 years. The relationships there were important. Seeing people live the lives they wanted to live, was just amazing. I wanted more of that connection so I moved into Volunteer Services and I loved it! It was about helping people to build relationships and make friends which brought me to the Meaningful Connections Project. That’s my jam!

SF: I love that for you! This might be the most I’ve ever seen you talk before!
BB: I’m an introvert. Maybe I could live alone in the woods. BUT, being part of a community is important. And further, being in a sustainable community is important. I lived downtown during the pandemic, and I was working from home. Everyone was super isolated and so many lived alone. What happened a lot would be where I’d run into other tenants while taking out trash and we enjoyed that interaction so much that a rubbish dump became a point of connection. Hence my thoughts about meaningful connections, it’s not just the task but the meaning and connection behind it.

SF: 100 per cent. Pandemic was really tough and isolating.
BB: Yeah, the pandemic really highlighted the importance of community and connection, didn’t it? Funny enough, before all that, I actually shared a car with my neighbour for a couple of years. It was during that time that I experienced firsthand the power of community and the value of supporting one another.
Living in that close-knit arrangement made me realize that I wanted to be part of a community where people truly know, support, and care for each other. That’s why I’m passionate about chairing the committee. I envision a community where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued for their unique contributions. It’s a journey, and I’m committed to helping us get there.

SF: Yes, totally. What else inspires you at St.Amant?
BB: I also chair the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the same reason. I want the St.Amant community to be as strong as it can be. We are a strong, diverse and passionate team. We all say the same thing: It’s the people that keep us here. We are stronger together. We are seen, heard and valued in the community. I feel like I grew up here. I started as a kid and now 20 years later, here I am!

SF: What does a typical day look like?
BB: I mostly work in the office now, so I try to come in the front door so I can say good morning to the folks working the front desk. We are a SUPER close-knit team! For me, it’s about checking in personally and not just about work things. Lately, there’s been this great energy. We are always looking for new opportunities for people to share their gifts and passions with the world. We like to share things with each other, and it creates a sense of urgency. It’s fueled by our enthusiasm for it. I’m so pumped that my team lives it every day. It’s really exciting now because what I didn’t anticipate was when I stopped doing direct support, how much I’d miss it.
I didn’t expect the grief and grieving process on that loss of connection. So now, being connected again is meaningful, and at the end of the day, I feel like I made a difference. I like to stay hopeful, and learn from things that are ‘failures AND successes’. I think we often forget that we are all working to make a HUGE change in the world, and sometimes it feels crushing, but there’s always hope for the next day and what these incremental changes will bring.

SF: Now that we know your “what” what is your “why”? What drives your passion for St.Amant?
BB: The people are my ‘why’. The idea that we support humans. A whole person. People deserve good lives. I know what it’s like to feel like I don’t fit in in this world. Then when you find a space where you really belong… I just want people to feel connected. I think we are hardwired to want to be connected to each other. Of course I want a job that I like, but it’s about having people and the people who really know you. We live the values here. I can’t imagine my life without St.Amant or working somewhere else.
It’s shaped me. I grew up here and It’s shaped the person that I am.

SF: Tell me an interesting, funny, or inspiring story about your work at St.Amant.
BB: Omg. Okay, let me think for a moment. When I worked evenings on the unit I’d host a book club, and I always wanted to make it super big, not just reading a book and talking about it. I wanted it to be extra. I built a mat maze fort in the gym for one of the book clubs. It didn’t work at all. The fort collapsed and we barely read the book. But it was SO fun.
One time we had a camp fire. Not in the building. Outside. And I poisoned myself with fire starter.

BB: No no. I just inhaled a lot because I had to use four bottles to get it started. Then dumped a bucket of water all over my shoes. It was a bit of a scene. And then one time at the Pride Parade last year … every time I’m involved, I can’t do it small and I need to go ALL THE WAY. Last year we had a float and had to make it on site. It was nearly 40 degrees outside. It was so gross. Andrew was there and then I said “I think we took our friendship to the sweat level!”
This other time, when I was employed with CRP during the pandemic and one of the staff came in in the evening and said you look SO familiar, have we met? I named a few things and then he said, “ I’ve got it! It’s your voice, it’s so familiar!” Then finally he yells “You’re the voice bingo!” I had been calling bingo throughout the pandemic. It’s my passion. And in retirement I hope to be a champion bingo caller. I even wrote a Harry Potter themed bingo calling one.

SF: Okay first of all I said ONE story. Also can we hear the Harry Potter themed bingo calling?
BB: I know, I know. It’s been 20 years. I have stories.

SF: Pick one person to give a shout out to at St.Amant and tell me why?
BB: Oh there’s so many people! I would have to say Tracy la Luke! She really sees what’s inside people and takes a chance on people based on their heart. And shout out to my whole team: Sam and Michelle are down for ANYTHING. Even if it seems ridiculous they do it. It really pushes me every day too!

SF: Ok here’s everyone’s favourite part: what question do you want them to answer at the end of this written piece that would make for odd answers in the comment section.?
BB: What is the song you sing in your shower when you think no one can hear you? Mine right now is likely something by Queen. No right now it’s bbno$ and their song Edamame.

*Note that Stac has to Google the spelling of bbno$ (pronounced baby no money) AND the spelling of edamame. *facepalm

SF: Okay, ya I love that song too. Well, thank you kindly for chatting. Always a pleasure!
BB: Thank you, can’t wait to hear what others are singing in their showers these days!

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