An unexpected journey to a rewarding role at the Canadian Red Cross

By: Jon Adam Chen, Advisor, Communications

Ololade (Lola) Ogunsuyi has discovered her niche working with the Canadian Red Cross as a site manager, supporting residents and staff at long-term care homes in Ontario. With her penchant for sharing knowledge and solving problems, Lola has instilled confidence in teams as they work to turn the tide against COVID-19.
Lola pictured in a Canadian Red Cross vest
“This position merges my interest in diseases and mitigating their spread with my background interest in managing and working with people as a team,” Lola said.

At the request of the provincial government, Red Cross teams work alongside existing staff in long-term care and retirement homes. As a site manager, Lola leads a team of support aides who provide comfort, care, and engagement with residents. This allows the staff at the home to focus on clinical care. 

Lola’s path to the Red Cross was unplanned. While volunteering with new Canadians seeking employment opportunities last spring, Lola learned about the federal government’s National COVID-19 Recruitment Campaign and applied.

“What drove me to apply was the fact that I have a background in lab work. I know how to sequence genomes, I know how to run tests, analyze them and search for variants,” Lola said.

She was confident that her master’s degree in Systems Medicine from Georgetown University had prepared her to make a difference to communities in need but was not yet sure how.

Lola received a call from the Canadian Red Cross, expressing interest in her profile after it was shared by the federal government. She learned that the Red Cross was recruiting for several roles. Following a series of successful interviews, Lola was offered and accepted the position of site manager for the Red Cross at Shepherd Village Lodge in Scarborough. She has since also deployed to Maple Health Centre in Vaughan and Roberta Place in Barrie.

Being a site manager has allowed Lola to recognize and nurture her own leadership qualities. She says she has felt a strong inclination to share knowledge from a young age, rooted in the experience of growing up as a first generation Canadian.

“I’ve seen my parents and other immigrants to this country struggle just to be able to access certain things that are basic. That’s why I’m an advocate for providing resources and mentorship to underrepresented communities,” Lola said.

She has brought this conviction to each long-term care home she’s supported.  Once assigned to a home, Lola ensures that her team members are informed of the latest updates and requirements.

“I share that information freely because I believe that knowledge will help them to make informed choices. Even though I am managing this team, and it seems administrative, this is also helping them to be safe.”

During her work she has recognized the power of a positive mindset in bolstering resilience.

“Instilling [the habit of] attacking your issues with a positive mindset has made a difference within my groups. I have seen the change from when we started up until the end.”

An important ingredient of this has been expressing gratitude to team members.

“A lot of times, people who do this kind of frontline healthcare work don’t get that simple thank you from people. I think that being positive and thankful makes such a big difference in their performance. This keeps them motivated and feeling appreciated.”

Lola is grateful to have found a role that brings out her strengths. “I’ve said it multiple times to my own manager, I am so happy to be a part of the Canadian Red Cross family, which has been so supportive. It’s great to be a part of an organization that matches my ideals.”

Want to help? View upcoming opportunities in the recruitment for the COVID-19 response.

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