After a number of years, Tapestry at Arbutus Walk’s GM Bill Rankin, is retiring. Through his transition, new GM HeeSon Domay is learning the ropes. We sat down with HeeSon to learn more about her.
Where are you from?
Haha, that’s an entire story in itself! I am the 14th child of a family of 14. I was adopted from Seoul, Korea at 7 months old by a Canadian family from Surrey. My father was Ellis Domay, a.k.a. Bud Domay. He was a staff sergeant with the Surrey RCMP and my mother, Reen Domay was a stay-at-home mom. Obviously, with that many kids to care for!
My parents had 10 natural born, single birth children before adopting a little First Nations boy, then a Korean girl that was one of the first Korean children to be adopted into Canada. And then they had another natural born girl before adopting me! I was one of five babies on the plane from Korea and with the size of our family, it was pretty big news when we landed at the Vancouver International airport. There were great pictures in the Vancouver Sun of my parents holding me with all of my brothers and sisters surrounding my parents reaching out to touch me.
I had been abandoned as a baby in Seoul and left on the heating grate of a laundromat. I was found in the early morning and taken to an orphanage where I was deemed healthy and well cared for by the doctor. During the war, there were many abandoned babies and I have always felt very lucky to have been chosen to come to Canada and I am truly blessed to be a part of the Domay clan.
Where did you grow up?
My parents were close to retirement age when they adopted me, so I did not live in Surrey for long. We moved to Nanaimo where I went to elementary school and my Dad worked for the government in Victoria and commuted. When my Dad fully retired, we moved further up the island to Hornby Island.
We had a house on the ocean with a lagoon just down from Whaling Station Bay. It was a fantastic place to grow up and I attended the elementary school there. I eventually went to middle school in Courtney then Qualicum Beach to finish high school. I attended Malsapina College (now Vancouver Island University) in Nanaimo to take my Bachelor of Arts with the intention to become a teacher. I eventually moved to Kelowna to follow a boy. What love will make you do!
Tell us about your career experience.
I had been in the Okanagan for the past 21 years working in tourism and hospitality. Until now, I have only ever worked in a hotel or inn. My 1st job was in housekeeping at a small inn in Qualicum Beach- as a “chambermaid” now called room attendants. I worked at the Qualicum College Inn (it’s haunted you know…). It was a boys prep school converted into a hotel and I was one of the few housekeepers who was willing to work in the ‘haunted’ section. In Nanaimo, I worked at the Long Lake Inn while attending college. After moving to the Okanagan Valley, I worked at the Kelowna Ramada Hotel & Conference Centre for 9.5 years. Here is where I developed my in depth knowledge, experience and skills from managing all departments and was then promoted to be the General Manager in Vernon at the Best Western Plus Vernon Lodge & Conference Centre where I spent nine years. I then managed the Vernon Holiday Inn Express while also opening a brand new independent hotel.
Why did you decide to work for Tapestry?
I was actually headhunted after being with a recruitment group. The Tapestry recruiter liked my experience. After expressing my interest, the recruiter sent me the information. Coming to retirement community management was something I had never considered before. The more I considered the opportunity, the more my experience with my parents came to mind. It really prepared me for this sector particularly because of my elderly parents, I’ve always been around seniors.
When my father passed away, we moved my mom back to the mainland – to White Rock. My sister converted her garage into a cottage for my mom. This worked well for some time, particularly since there were my plenty of my sisters living within a very short distance. Mom eventually developed Alzheimer’s and had a couple of falls. Even with lots of support from our extensive family network, we knew we needed to do more for her. We chose a retirement community called Christina Place where she had her own private suite and was still very close to the family.
Since I was living in the Okanagan, I saw my mom less often than my other siblings. So, when I visited her after her move to the retirement community, I noticed a lot of positive changes in her. She was more engaged – more “with it” than when she was by herself. It was fantastic to see the improvement in her quality of life. Towards the end of my mom’s life, our family rallied together and supported each other during her passing and even though I was the youngest, I was one of the solid foundations for my other siblings to lean on during this emotional time.
With this experience in mind, I felt very confident about taking a new career opportunity with Tapestry. I am comfortable with all ages because of my family size – I have 67 nieces and nephews which includes some nieces and nephews that are even older than I am!
What’s your goal moving forward in your new career with Tapestry?
Well, Bill is leaving a legacy and has built a fantastic team. I would like to maintain Bill’s high standards and have time to really get to know our residents and employees.
We are so glad to have HeeSon on our Tapestry team. She is full of energy and brings a wealth of experience. We will check in again with her in a few months to find out about her experience, interesting stories, and more. Stay tuned!
Check out her LinkedIn Profile here