Caring for others has been an important part of Cindy Castillo’s life for some time.
Growing up in Brandon, she helped care for her mother during her mom’s struggles with rheumatoid arthritis and mental health. It was her experience helping her mother, in fact, that helped Cindy determine she wanted to make a career out of helping others.
After studying at Briercrest Bible College in Saskatchewan, she returned to Manitoba where she began working in the health food industry. As rewarding as the work was, she decided she wanted a more people-focused career.
As fate would have it, one of her friends was working at Hope Centre Inc., which would later become Epic Opportunities. Cindy was so intrigued by the organization and its efforts to assist people with intellectual disabilities she decided to join as a disability support worker. Thirteen years later the self-described “people person” is still on the job and loving every minute of it.
“I knew this work is not for everyone, but I knew with my personality it would be for me,” she says. “I was a little apprehensive at first but they provided a lot of training and I was eager to learn.”
Helping the people she supports acquire new skills and information is one of the most rewarding parts of her work, Cindy says, and one of the main reasons why she continues to enjoy her job.
“I love my work. I love teaching and I find you have a great opportunity to do that with this work. It’s very rewarding [in that sense],” she says.
Her enthusiasm for that work is just part of what makes her such an effective support worker, says Sandy Kauenhofen, a coordinator with Epic Opportunities and one of Cindy’s former supervisors.
“I think Cindy is very focused on the individual and what they like and want and need in their lives. It’s never about her agenda, it’s always what is best for them,” Sandy says. “She has a very strong commitment to the people she is supporting and is very dedicated to them.”
Another rewarding aspect of the job for Cindy has been the relationships she has developed with the people she serves. She currently provides support at a residential home in the Windsor Park area, where she has been working for the past six years. She says working at one location for an extended period of time has enabled her to “develop a connection” with the people who live there.
Someone with whom Cindy shares a profound connection is her husband Javier. They have been married for 24 years and have three children together – Roman, Jasmin and Lucas. The couple originally met in the Dominican Republic, where she was part of a church mission to build a school and he was working as a translator. Both were aspiring musicians at the time and Cindy says it was their love of music that helped bring them together.
When she isn’t busy working or spending time with family, Cindy enjoys exercising, studying Spanish, working on behalf of her church and providing care for her father.