Leah Minuk set to retire on Oct. 29th after 35 years with COHO Management Services Society
Congratulations on your retirement, Leah! Can you tell us about the roles you held in your 35-year career?
I’ve lived in co-ops since 1985; I hadn’t been working for a while because I was home with my son and I was desperate for housing. In the process I found co-ops and, at the same time, Entre Nous Femmes Housing Society was offering a training program – through that I got the job with COHO. It was my first job after being away for three years. Back then it was Nicholas Gazzard, Leo Burdack and David Lach who hired me – I was the second hire. We were very small back then – back in the day when we used both sides of the adding machine (calculator) paper!
I’ve always been a coordinator; I worked in the accounting department for a brief while, I was a senior coordinator and then changed to a mentoring coordinator – so I’d be doing my job and assisting other coordinators when they needed it. The job involves everything you need to do to manage a building in a co-op…whether it’s administrative, financial or just being involved with the community.
What motivated you to stay with COHO for 35 years?
I think it’s a combination of things – it’s interesting because I’ve been working with somebody who’s new and they were saying how respectful and kind the environment is here. After a while you just see the things that bug you, so that brought me up short. I love the commitment to co-ops – for me it’s a dream job, and I can sleep at night knowing what I do during the day to support co-ops. And it’s been a good, steady job; I was a single parent with two kids, so it was wonderful to have that kind of employment while they were growing up. It’s been a very supportive environment, with amazing opportunities to learn things while on the job – it’s never stagnant.
What are some of the big changes you saw during your career?
Well we went from two to three staff to maybe somewhere in the 60-person range now, so we’ve certainly grown! It’s really exciting to see how COHO and CHF BC are growing and going in different directions. We’re at the stage now where we’re moving into a new world of property management and co-op development – it’s very exciting (but I’m a little too tired to go there!). We’re offering a wider range of ways to support co-ops in a professional way.
What are you going to miss?
Mostly the people! I’ve made some good friends through the years, and I’ve enjoyed all my colleagues in one way or another. It’s exciting working in the co-op movement and I’m hoping to transfer that to volunteer work in some way.
What are you planning to do next?
Everybody is asking me that and I just say, “I dunno, I’ve been working since I was 13!” I’m going to sleep for the first six months, and then look for new things to learn – I’ve always wanted to learn Latin. Maybe a little bit of travel if I can find the funds, maybe finish the history and English degree I started a while ago. After having both my knees replaced this year I’ve been able to get back to hiking, which is great – I’ll be doing a lot more of that. Mostly I want to give myself time to regroup and get used to not having to be somewhere!
Thanks so much Leah, and best of luck on this exciting new chapter! Please join us in wishing Leah well by signing the e-card here: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/kfx5hHWN
Photo: Happy days in the COHO offices with Maryellen Miller.