Brian Wilkinson Interview – June 2018

HA: Can you share a bit about yourself before Elements?    

BW: At a younger age, school was not at the top of my list of achievements. That did however change after an accident happened to me. That was a very important turning point in my life. I really had to think about any future plans, or lack thereof, I might have. All things pointed to school which proved positive in my future endeavors. Schooling along with life experiences lead me into my start with this agency. Prior to working with Elements, I was in the oil field industry as a Geological Technician. I did enjoy this job, but I had a feeling inside that something was missing. As it turned out, I found that missing thing.

HA: That’s awesome Brian! What inspired you to get into this line of work?

BW: While in school taking rehabilitation for the physically & mentally handicapped, my interest grew in wanting to help others who also might be struggling with personal issues. This was strongly based on where I was, and my own experiences at the time.

HA: What personality traits, in your opinion, do you think are needed to be a great fit?

BW: For someone to be a good fit in this career, that individual needs to be nonjudgmental & should always say to themselves how would or could I behave or react to whatever the situation is that is happening. They need to have compassion in the highest order, and an inner sense of empathy for situations. These are qualities that are not picked up in books, they are gained from life experiences and the reality of our world at times.

HA: Can you share some of your goals when you first began a career here at Elements?   

BW: While my goals when I first started were simple, it was to give this agency all I could by learning from those around me. Staff and members alike. Using that knowledge combined with my own abilities to give the members a positive & safe environment to access.

HA: You’ve obviously witnessed much change within the Centre, how has adapting to the changes been for you personally?

BW: Yes changes have certainly come. In the beginning of my employment, programming, events and activities were kept simpler. As being the lone operator of the Recreation Department at the time, ideas were limited. What was done 30 years ago was successful with what we had. Over time, the REC. Dept. expanded, more people with different ideas and suggestions made for more activities, which proved to be beneficial for the members. I found it at times to be a struggle adapting to change but that is only because it was all I knew and what I had grown used to. Yes, I would say change has been intriguing, challenging, and a great thing.

HA: Now I know you can list of a plethora of activities and tasks you love taking on at The Centre, but what do you like most about working for Elements?

BW: What I like most about working at Elements is the co-workers that I work alongside with. The positive feeling I get inside, seeing that the work that I, We, do does make a difference for the members. Seeing a simple smile on the members faces goes a long way in making me feel good. This is one of the many reasons I have stayed for so long, working here for the length of time I have. I have also learned invaluable lessons from the members over the times that I have spent with them.

HA: You worked here for over 30 years, that is not a small feat, my friend.

BW: No sir, it is not. Now you have about 20 plus years to catch up to me. Ha-ha

HA: ha-ha that will be an accomplishment worthy of my own piece such as this, no?

BW: you got that right!

HA: Brian, you’ve worked here for over 30 years, at any point in time did you give yourself a career timeline?

BW: When I first started with Elements, then called Calgary Association of Self Help, I had a feeling that it would be a great choice of work. It seemed that the more time and energy that I put into my work the more positive response I was getting from the members. Respect was growing both ways. Months just seemed to turn into years, then years into decades. Time seemed to go by without notice. I do not know that I would have stayed if that inner feeling of goodness was not there. My time at Elements has been rewarding with no regrets.

HA: Did you ever see yourself turning out this way? Being a mentor and an example of excellence for over 30 plus years?

BW: Did I know it would be this way, no I would not have been able to see this outcome. But as time passed everything was pointing to this being a very rewarding and learning career choice. Many experiences were presented and all of them formed the person I was becoming and ultimately became.

HA: As your career is near its close, what advice can you give to future employees?

BW: What I would say to people entering this line of employment would be that people with mental health difficulties need someone who can listen and assist them to come up with a plan to help them normalize their lives. I believe that it is important for people struggling to try to gain self-esteem. That should be a priority/goal for anyone trying to assist them.