Antonia “Annie” Odupitan is the house manager at Camelot Castle in Greenfield. Her career story began as a teenage volunteer. With continuing education in health care, Annie hopes she can grow as an employee along with Castle Senior Living.
You have worked in many aspects of senior care. Could you share a bit about your journey in this field?
I started volunteering at St. Mary’s Nursing Home at 35th and Center in Milwaukee when I was 14. My aunt was the charge nurse. I used to play the card game, Kings in the Corner, and bingo with the nuns. I enjoyed learning about the ladies’ life stories. Once I was able to legally work, I became a dietary aid there. But I realized that job didn’t allow me to spend time one-on-one with the residents, so I left.
When I was 19, I worked as a live-in caregiver for three years at an assisted living facility while I pursued a bachelor’s degree at UW-Milwaukee in Information Science and Technology. Once I finished college, my husband and I agreed that I should be a stay at home mom. Over the years, I was a part-time caregiver. Once my kids went to school, I took a full-time job in the banking industry and worked as a caregiver every other weekend. My job in corporate America made me realize that I have more of a passion for health care than technology, so that led me to a full-time position as a house manager at Castle Senior Living. My goal is to merge both my degree and passion for health care with another degree or certificate. As Castle Senior Living grows, I hope they will find a place for my future skill set.
What are the qualities or special skills that you bring to the job?
I am skilled in hospice care, so I can adapt to the different stages, and have empathy for the residents and families as their loved one transitions. My experience in dementia care helps me navigate through the many levels of the illness, including dementia advancement and Alzheimer’s disease. I’m a problem-solver who guides residents through the various changes to ensure that their safety and all of the activities of daily living are met.
What do you enjoy most about working for Camelot Castle?
The diversity of the residents. I love talking to them, learning about their past and the experiences they have encountered in their lives. It’s like getting a full history lesson every time I’m on the job.
I worked at Cambridge Castle in Milwaukee for a while and used my skills to interact with the residents affected by dementia. It’s an incredible feeling to help a resident adapt to their environment. I witnessed how my compassion and patience made them feel loved and cared for. It made me feel good knowing that I was making a difference in someone’s life.
What are you most passionate about at work?
I want to be more than a caregiver and employee to a resident. I pride myself on making a positive impact. I want them to know that they have a friend in me. Before the pandemic and most especially now, many do not have the opportunity to see their friends and family regularly. I’m grateful that my being there for them makes them happy.
Is there a project or idea that you are working on right now at Camelot Castle?
I am helping residents register to vote. This requires setting up an appointment for them to renew their identification and mailing in the proper forms in time for the November election.
What’s the most important thing that you’ve learned on the job?
As a house manager, I have learned emotional intelligence and accountability is everything.
In the past year, I’ve personally learned to live my life every day. A family member once told me a personal story that touched me deeply. It made me rethink the way I approached life and how I was putting things off that I wanted to do once I was older. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, so it’s best to enjoy life right now.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that other people might not know.
I’ve played the trumpet since I was 12 years old. I am a Certified Red Cross swimmer. I traveled a lot as a child, so I attended four elementary schools, three high schools and moved away from home at the age of seventeen to a different state. I guess that’s why I love to travel a lot, especially abroad to visit friends and family.