One of Carleigh McKay’s passions in life is developing relationships. It’s a passion that infuses virtually ever aspect of what she does.
That’s especially true when it comes to her work life. McKay serves as the Manager of Epic Opportunities’ Connections program, which helps families navigate through the process of transitioning a loved one into a home of their own and access the supports they will require to do so.
McKay is often one of the very first staff people will meet when they connect with the non-profit agency – and there is nothing she enjoys more than helping them on their journey.
“I love the idea of having an opportunity to develop relationships and that’s why I adore working in Connections. It’s just a perfect fit for me,” she says.
A graduate of Lethbridge College in Alberta, McKay studied Therapeutic Recreation with a major in Gerontology. She also has a degree in Human Services from Athabasca University.
She joined Epic Opportunities about three years ago after spotting an online job ad with the agency. Part of what attracted her to Epic Opportunities, she says, was that fact that she would still have an opportunity to work with seniors but younger adults as well.
McKay’s involvement in the community living sector isn’t limited to just her role as Manager of Connections. She is currently a member of the board of directors of Community Living Interlake and previously served in a similar role with Support Services to Seniors in Stonewall, opportunities she says have helped her gain a better understanding of social policy.
When she’s not busy working, McKay enjoys spending time with her husband Jesse and the couple’s two dogs, whom they adopted from canine rescue services that specialize in fostering dogs with physical disabilities. The couple are also avid travel enthusiasts and are planning a trip to Munich and Amsterdam next year.
The thought of travelling anywhere was one of the last things on McKay’s mind after she was seriously injured in an automobile accident while travelling to work from her home in Stonewall in March 2016.
A driver travelling in the opposite direction on the highway lost control and ending up hitting her vehicle head on. The impact of the collision hurled her car about 70 feet and caused her to lose consciousness. The accident left her with a mild traumatic brain injury and a serious spinal injury, the impact of which she is still struggling with to this day.
Although the accident caused her to miss nearly nine months of work, McKay acknowledges her situation could have been much worse.
“They said it was an absolute miracle that I wasn’t paralyzed from the waist down. Had I moved or sneezed or anything I could have been permanently paralyzed.”
One of the positives she took away from that experience was that it reinforced the importance of taking a person-centred approach to the people she serves through Epic Opportunities.
“Everyone was talking about me, talking through me, but there wasn’t a whole lot of talking with me and planning with me. It was like a lot of things were decided for me,” McKay says of her recovery.
“It really drove home for me the importance of a person-centred approach. Those are the magic words in this field and in any kind of human or health services as far as I’m concerned. It really drove home for me about treating others about how you want to be treated.”