#VillaHeroes: Daniela Fazari, fulfilling a mission of care
Daniela Fazari is a bright light around St. Joseph’s Villa. She’s the kind of soul that one is naturally drawn to and confides in. A friend to many and one you’d be lucky to have. She inspires everyone to be better, to love life and enjoy all the precious moments it has to offer.
Daniela has been part of the Villa’s Environmental Aide team since 2007 but knew long before then that she wanted to be in a care environment. Her work is a great reflection of everything it means to live the mission of St. Joseph’s Villa and be a #VillaHero.
A coming of age
When Daniela was growing up, her father, Mario, battled cancer. Her and her twin sister, Christina, helped her dad get through his treatments and took care of him at home.
“I saw the power of caring for others and the impact a caregiver can have on the life of a loved one,” Daniela recalls. “When you’re so young and exposed to that reality, it leaves an impression on you. Even though I may not have known it at the time, my future had already been decided.”
By the time she was nine, her dad passed away. But a father’s spirit is never lost on a daughter. “He inspired me tremendously,” says Daniela. “I think about him all the time. So much of who I am and what I love is because of him.”
With the insight and guidance of her mother, Marisa, who has worked at the Villa for 33 years, Daniela was able to turn the loss of her dad into a love for caregiving and realized how she could eventually make it her profession. This encouraged her to volunteer at the Villa throughout high school, where she developed many meaningful relationships with residents.
After graduating high school, Daniela decided that she didn’t quite love doing the work of a nurse or a PSW, but wanted to remain in a care environment and build relationships with residents.
After seeing the compassionate care and quality of life residents receive at the Villa, Daniela’s choice was made easy. She wanted to be around this positivity and be a figure in bettering the lives of residents. She found a great mix of this in the role she’d eventually take on as a housekeeper on the Environmental Aide team.
Fulfilling the mission of the Villa
Through her work at the Villa, she’s become great friends with many residents and is someone they can always count on. The same sentiment remains amongst staff, who always seem to be gleaming when around her. This was proven true when she supported staff on the frontlines during the pandemic. Daniela was quick to step up, embodying the mission and vision of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
“It was a little bit intimidating,” Daniela admits. “We were in the early days of the pandemic, and there were a lot of unknowns surrounding COVID. But I thought to myself that I’d want someone to do this for my mother if she was in long-term care, so it made the decision that much easier.”
Dawn Martin, RPN and Admissions Coordinator, is one of the lucky staff members assisted by Daniela during this time.
“You can’t help but have a smile on your face when Daniela is around,” said Dawn. “During one of our most challenging times, Daniela never missed a moment to ensure her colleagues and residents were OK. There’s no task too big or small for her…
“Family is an integral part of Daniela’s life, and she made our team feel like we were family. I am truly honoured to work with her and call her my friend.”
Daniela is grateful for the time she spent working with Dawn and holds PSWs and nurses in the highest regard for all they do to take care of residents at the Villa, protecting our most vulnerable populations during the pandemic.
‘Runs in the family’
When asked who inspires her the most,
“Both my dad and my mom,” said Daniela. “Though my dad isn’t here anymore, I’m always told I take so much after him. And my mom is truly my hero. The way she’s persevered, raising my siblings and me after my dad’s passing, is so admirable. She’s amazing; my best friend.”
When Daniela says she takes after her dad, perhaps she means her love for cooking, which seems to run in the family. Her dad, Mario, owned a pizza shop downtown and was a favourite amongst Hamiltonians. Her brother, Lou, owned a restaurant of his own in Dundas, where Daniela helped out on her time off.
And Daniela is a chef in her own right. From homemade ravioli to crème brûlée to beef wellington, she can make it all. Her porchetta sandwich has become famous at the Villa, and her colleagues long for the days where she can share them again.
Her passion for cooking is matched with her love for family and her Shar-Pei, Diesel. There’s a special place where she can enjoy these pleasures at once: her camping trailer. With her siblings Lou, Rick and Christina; great food on the grill; and catching up on what’s new – it’s the simple things in life that fill her soul.