Don’t ask Pam Munnik about a favourite moment during her career with Epic Opportunities.
It’s not that she doesn’t have any thoughts on the subject. No, the problem is that as she begins her 18th year with the organization it would be nearly impossible to pick just one moment that stands out.
Still, Munnik acknowledges what she savours most about her work is having an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the people Epic Opportunities serves on an almost daily basis.
“I’m a big fan of celebrating. I’m a firm believer in celebrating with people even the smallest successes,” says Munnik, a senior manager who works out of the organization’s Goulet Street day service location in St. Boniface.
“That has kept me positive about the work we do. There’s a certain joy in being able to walk along with someone as they achieve success. You feel it too. It’s so great to be able to tell the story of where someone has been and how far they’ve come.”
Munnik herself has come a long way since joining Epic Opportunities soon after her high school graduation. She did her practicum at the non-profit agency’s former Eastside Thames location while enrolled in the Disability and Community Support program at Red River College. She joined Epic Opportunities full-time after completing the program and has filled a variety of roles since then including disability support worker, team leader, community resource manager and senior manager.
“I’ve been very fortunate at Epic that I’ve been able to take on different roles and try new things all the time,” she says. “My day changes all day long. I’m not stuck at a desk all the time. Every day is different.”
Munnik developed an interest in working in the community living sector while still in high school. She often assisted fellow students in what was then referred to as the school’s Special Education class and provided respite care to a family with a child who was living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
“I think just seeing the sense of segregation…in that class prompted me to become an advocate [for vulnerable people],” she recalls.
Munnik has been involved in almost every facet of Epic Opportunities since joining the organization. She was one of the first team leaders for the Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope (PATH) goal-setting and planning supports. She has also served as a facilitator for the Ethics of Touch and Positive Behaviour Supports training sessions, helped redevelop a self-development workshop series for people with intellectual disabilities and currently sits on a committee charged with helping people served by the organization to better understand their individual rights.
Coordinator and long-time co-worker Donna Honke says Munnik’s greatest strength is her ability to connect with the people she serves as well as fellow staff.
“She has a genuine concern for people and people’s rights,” Honke says. “She has a real gift for positive support of people. If someone is not able to communicate verbally she is able to read their body and eye movements and help that person communicate in another way.
“She’s also a really good role model. People watch her and look up to her and respect her. She’s able to assess a situation and put people at ease…even when it can sometimes be a very stressful situation.”
Munnik’s other passion is her family. She and her husband John have two children and there’s nothing she loves more than camping or watching a Jets or Bombers game with them. She’s also an avid reader and recently finished a non-fiction book on the exploits of heroes during the Holocaust.