Interview: Valerie Kostyniuk, Development Officer
Since this interview was published, Valerie has found a new career in education. We wish her all the best and hope you enjoy her interview!
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m Valerie. I started here at the Foundation in September of last year, covering a maternity leave contract. I was born at Humber’s Church site, so this job has been a great opportunity for me to learn about a Major Gifts role while giving back to the Hospital that, for me, started it all!
In one sentence, how would you explain your job to a friend?
I get to connect generous people interested in the Hospital with our incredible doctors and staff and the innovative, exciting projects they are working on!
Is there a Program of Care you have a personal connection to?
All of Humber’s Programs of Care are pretty amazing! I have the privilege of working closely with Cancer Care, Healthy Living, and the Maternal Child program, and all 3 programs have incredible leaders, physicians and staff. I’ve been lucky enough to meet amazing patients who’ve benefited from care in those areas and generously shared their stories, too.
I do feel a personal connection to the Maternal Child Program, especially Humber’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Over the past few years, 2 of my nieces spent months in a NICU before they could go home. They are both thriving now! So when I hear patients talk about the difference the care they receive in Humber’s NICU makes, and when I see the NICU nurses and paeditricians going the extra mile for our tiniest patients and their families day after day, I really feel the impact that makes.
What are the three most interesting pieces of technology at Humber?
It’s not a piece of technology exactly, but Humber’s Command Centre really interests me. It’s a first in Canada! I feel really proud that Humber is putting such innovative, forward-thinking measures into place to insure quicker access to care for patients and more efficient use of resources for Hospital staff. Plus, walking into the Command Centre feels like walking into the bridge of the USS Enterprise, and, since I’m such a nerd, that’s really exciting in and of itself!
Do you have a favourite project?
I’m working together with members of the Muslim communities nearby the Hospital to fundraise for the project of opening a new NICU pod – that’s 4 more badly needed NICU rooms plus the leading edge equipment we provide for our patients. As I said, the NICU is close to my heart. And it’s incredible to get to know more about the mosques in our area and to meet some of the incredibly dedicated, generous people who are part of those communities.
What is one awesome thing you’ve done in the last year?
I started taking bandura lessons! The bandura is a Ukrainian folk instrument, kind of a cross between a lute and harp. My family had 2 of them in our home growing up, and the story is that they were smuggled out of Ukraine in the 60’s when it was still under Soviet rule. So my whole life I’ve been looking at these gorgeous, esoteric instruments and wishing I could play. The thing is, they have a million strings and look so intimidating! I finally told myself, “no time like the present” and committed to it. It turns out that playing the bandura is pretty tricky, but the music is so beautiful when I get it right, and that’s really motivating!
What inspires you?
People’s capacity for generosity. In this job, I get to see generosity first hand every day – people are so generous with their money and resources, with their time, with their energy, with their commitment, with their knowledge, with their patience… I feel so lucky to have it proven to me day in and day out that people really will go above and beyond, again and again, to take care of one another.