Formerly a nurse in Puerto Rico, Mildred Castillo was searching for a change when she began her professional employment in the United States. Mildred first applied to St. John’s Home, but there were not any openings. She recalls being told that there was an open part-time position in housekeeping at St. John’s Meadows. “I didn’t even know what St. John’s Meadows was at the time,” says Mildred. However, almost 15 years years ago, Mildred took a leap of faith in a new job role at an unfamiliar organization and has never regretted the decision.
“I really love it, especially because I interact with the residents,” says Mildred. Starting in Briarwood at St. John’s Meadows, Mildred’s career at St. John’s has taken many twists, including using her talents to support the construction and opening of Brickstone by St. John’s. She has also grown in her responsibilities, but appreciates that she was able to advance in her career by staying in the same department.
Going from being a housekeeper, to a supervisor, and then advancing to a role in management of the environmental services department at St. John’s independent living communities, has offered Mildred different perspectives. “It has been a journey,” says Mildred, who also points out that management requires different skills.
According to Mildred, when you are a housekeeper, you only have to focus on your own work and the resident apartments for which you are responsible. As a manager, “you have to concentrate on the whole campus, all the buildings and all of the staff and make sure everything looks like it is supposed to be,” says Mildred.
For Mildred, the most rewarding part of her job is not specific to the inherent tasks of management or housekeeping. “It’s just about the residents. I really love them.” Mildred says that she has had other job opportunities over the years, like working in a lab, which would move her in a different career direction, but she has always declined because she didn’t want to leave “my residents.”
“I would have a job offer and then I would see one of my residents in the hall. The resident would say, ‘Mildred I need you’,” says Mildred, whose value comes from helping others. Mildred also recalls special relationships she has forged with residents over the years, even holding dear the memories she has of those who have passed. One resident, Mildred remembers, always said to her “you can do more, Mildred.”
As a friend (and former St. John’s employee) encouraged Mildred to do over 15 years ago now, by talking about St. John’s and having her come visit, Mildred now champions St. John’s as an employer to those she meets. “I encourage people to come to St. John’s because it is a lovely place. Everyone is so nice and respectful.”