By Charlotte Gruntowska
What makes The Camrose Centre so special is not just the support and services we provide, but the people within the team and behind the scenes that make things happen and who care for our clients.
Chris Jenner has worked at The Camrose for several years. Five of those volunteering and latterly employed for the last three years. His knowledge of the clients and the inner workings of Camrose are to me, a newbie, still mind blowing. He’s (insanely!) organized, funny, timely, intelligent and empathetic. He is an ideas machine, fuelled by compassion and driven by a desire to do the best he can for any client that comes through our doors. Chris expresses it thus: “There are many words used to describe what we do at Camrose. But to me the very simple way of describing what we do is we care. We care if you’re hungry. We care if you’re cold. We care if you need help. Yes, we care enough to do something about helping others. When you care about others it’s amazing how you brighten other people’s lives“. The word “care” can be used glibly, seen as a throw away comment but when this guy says it, he means it!
Any client who has had time with Chris will tell you this is true. I see him outside chatting with clients, talking to them with a look of fervent interest. I see a man who knows how to listen. I doubt it’s just his qualification in counselling (among many others; he’s officially Dr. Chris Jenner) is the only reason why. I believe his own personal tragedies in life, his career turnaround and a deep faith has a lot to do with it. You can’t teach some of the skills he has.
“You may be the only person who has cared enough to listen to them for days.”
Chris says “Just taking time to listen and I don’t mean sitting there and letting what the person is saying go over your head, but really listen to them. Many times you will hear the same story and yes it would be easy to think let’s switch off I have heard this before. But it’s so important to remain attentive. You may be the only person who has cared enough to listen to them for days.”
That ability to turn off from your own life, the things that are annoying you or the jobs you want to do later, is remarkable to see. A recent client told me that when Chris was helping him he “didn’t feel judged. I felt listened to and he didn’t play down my problems like some people tend to do”. That’s a powerful statement.
He’s often talking to people – talking up Camrose, thinking of ideas for the future and planning how he can be involved in our next venture. He loves the clients; loves their personalities and their quirks. He is so right when he says “It’s not all sadness and gloom; some of our clients are the funniest people I have ever met. Some will never consider themselves down on their luck or worse off”.
I hope Chris will remain a part of Camrose for many years to come.