In honour of ‘Superhero Day’ on April 28th, Parkbridge has been celebrating our in-house heroic colleagues all week. Our real-life superheroes may not have special powers or wear capes, but they’ve certainly made a positive impact on people’s lives.
We’re proud to share two recent stories of Parkbridge employees who went above and beyond to help others, while demonstrating our company’s CARE values – Community, Authenticity, Respect and Excellence. These colleagues happen to work closely with one another, which makes these events even more extraordinary.
We believe these stories are a great reminder that even during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which is keeping us physically apart, it’s still possible to connect with others in meaningful ways. And that often what seems like a small gesture can have a hugely positive impact on someone’s life.
Part 1: Stopping for a Stranger
Ryan Foss has worked as a Maintenance Manager at a number of Ontario Parkbridge residential communities for seven years. He’s known to colleagues and residents as being extremely helpful, down-to-earth and an overall ‘great guy.’
After a typical workday earlier this month, Ryan headed home in his company truck. About halfway into his commute, he spotted something unusual on the side of the highway. It was a rainy evening around 5 pm, and he saw a woman sitting on the slope of a ditch. It appeared her vehicle was parked nearby on an off-road driveway. Ryan’s gut told him something wasn’t right. Other cars were driving by, but he decided to stop to find out if the woman needed help.
Ryan slowed down, did a U-turn, and pulled over on the opposite side of the road. He cautiously crossed the two-lane highway and called out to the woman to ask if she was ok.
Ryan kept his distance as he didn’t want to intimidate the woman. He also wanted to respect physical distancing due to COVID-19. Even at a safe distance, he could see the woman was breathing quickly and struggling to calm herself. Ryan asked he should call an ambulance, but she shook her head and said no.
But Ryan knew he didn’t want to leave her alone just yet. Instead, he said “If you want me to stay, I’ve got nowhere else to be.”
She didn’t object to him sticking around, so Ryan gently asked some questions to her help her feel more relaxed.
Through her breaths, she managed to tell Ryan that she worked at a nearby hospital. As anyone can imagine, working in health care during the pandemic has been extremely difficult and demanding. She told Ryan she was experiencing stress at work and on top of that, had received some bad news from the hospital that day. While driving, she became overwhelmed with panic, and had to pull over in the rain to try to calm down.
After chatting for a few minutes, Ryan could tell the woman’s distress was easing. After she assured him she could drive safely, Ryan wished her well and drove home to his family. With a wife and three kids at home, he resumed his typical evening routine of dinner, family banter and help with homework.
Small Gesture, Huge Impact
Ryan is also known to be a very humble person. He didn’t think stopping to help the woman was a big deal, so he didn’t tell anyone about it. But it turned out that his gesture had made a big impression on her.
A few days after the event, Ryan received a call from Helena Wilson, the Office Coordinator at Parkbridge’s main Collingwood office. She asked him if he happened to help a woman on the side of a highway recently.
Helena said although the woman Ryan helped had forgotten to get his name during her ordeal, she had noticed the Parkbridge logo on his truck. She was so grateful that Ryan stopped to check on her, she decided to track him down through the company to thank him. She reached Helena on the phone to find out the name and contact info of a man in his thirties with a red beard. Helena knew that matched Ryan Foss’s description.
With Ryan’s permission, Helena gave the woman his email address. Helena also provided the woman his Community and Regional Managers so she could share her story with them.
In her message to Ryan’s managers, she wrote that she was incredibly moved by Ryan’s actions. She said that as she sat on the side of the road in the rain while hyperventilating, she noticed car after car driving by her. No one stopped or called out to her, until Ryan came along.
“He was absolutely amazing,” she writes. “The weather was cold and wet, and he ensured I was ok before either of us left. Ryan deserves a huge thanks and a hug, however these days we cannot do that. He was a genuine, good person looking out for my greater good. You should be proud to have such a caring and compassionate employee working for you.”
Ryan’s Regional Manager, Pam Wright, couldn’t agree more. She was thrilled to hear the story about Ryan but wasn’t surprised that he had taken the time to help a stranger. Pam says Ryan “inspires her everyday with his kindness” and truly embodies all of the Parkbridge CARE values.
Part 2: A Scary Scene
Just one day after Ryan helped the woman on a highway, his Property Manager Christina Valentini also found herself dealing with an unusual situation on her drive home from work. Christina manages several Parkbridge residential communities in Ontario. Last fall, she was promoted to that position after working as a Parkbridge community administrator for 2 years.
Christina’s story began shortly after one of her colleague’s said goodbye and headed home for the day. About 20 minutes later, Christina wrapped up her work and left the office as well.
Not long into her drive, Christina came upon the scene of a single car accident on the side of a country road. The entire windshield of the car had been smashed. And alarmingly, Christina recognized the vehicle as her colleague’s, who had departed the office only minutes before her.
She pulled over and ran to the damaged car. There was very little shoulder on this stretch of country road, so it looked like the vehicle had swerved and gone straight into the trees.
When Christina saw her young colleague in the car, she knew she needed immediate medical attention.
“She was awake and talking, but not coherent”, she says. “Her face had lacerations and I saw her airbag had not deployed. I was terrified she had a brain injury and wanted to get her help as fast as possible.”
Christina formerly worked for an insurance company, in the accident benefit department. She is very familiar with the trauma and seriousness of car accidents, which led her to act without hesitation.
Christina also knew that they were in a remote area, where police and ambulance service is not close by. She says her “mom instincts” kicked into gear and she only thought about saving the young woman.
“I thought about my own children, and her parents and how important it was to save this kid.”
Christina was able to help her colleague out of the vehicle into her own car and drove 22 minutes to the nearest hospital.
During the drive, Christina did her best to keep the young woman awake and talking. Once they reached the emergency room, Christina was able to call one of her colleague’s close friends to come to the hospital for support. After making that arrangement, Christina headed back to the scene of the accident to have the damaged car towed, and to file a report with the police.
When all of this wrapped up, Christina called her Regional Manager, Pamela Wright. She was in tears, feeling worried about her colleague and anxious that she had something wrong or missed a step. Pam reassured her that she did everything right.
“Christina has extraordinary management and people skills”, Pam says. “She saw someone in need and did exactly what was needed to help.”
A Happy Ending
The doctors at the hospital agreed. When Christina followed up on her colleague’s condition the next day, they told her the young woman was lucky that she made it to the hospital quickly. She had a concussion and without help, her head injury would have been very serious. If Christina had waited for an ambulance to reach them, things may not have turned out as well.
Thankfully, Christina’s colleague is doing better. She is currently healing from her concussion and expects to make a full recovery.
Christina says the young woman can’t remember much about the accident, or the drive to the hospital. But it’s a day Christina, or her manager Pam, will not forget.
“I work with superheroes”, says Pam. “I’m so grateful for all of them and so proud to be part of Parkbridge, with such amazing people.”