Active Aging’s Aditi
by Andrew McCutcheon
Every employee contributes to the success of the whole when it comes to Unison and Kerby Centre; and that’s the way it’s been for 50 years.
When we talk about the question of what Kerby Centre is, beyond just a building, it’s impossible not to mention all the incredible people that work tirelessly towards our mission of helping seniors live their best lives.
No one encapsulates that better than Aditi Sharma, the Manager of our Active Aging department.
In the position now for several years, Aditi is the person who makes sure all the different incredible Active Aging programs at Kerby Centre go off without a hitch, everything from drop-in pickleball to Fitness with Dan. Classrooms must be booked, fees must be paid, and instructors must be organized, and Aditi is the one who oversees the whole shebang.
But although her story intertwines with the story of Kerby Centre, Aditi’s personal journey to get here begins a few decades ago in another part of the world.
Aditi was born in Katmandu, the capital of Nepal, in 1988, but grew up in a fast-growing city called Sunwal. Her father, a mechanical engineer, worked at a factory in Sunwal and her mother taught grade school. In fact, during Aditi’s 18 years of growing up in Sunwal, she was a student in her mother’s class!
“It was terrible,” Aditi says with a laugh, the smile that can brighten a room on full display. “If you don’t do good, you’ll get scolded … and I’d get it at school and at home!”
After the factory was established, the population of Sunwal exploded, but Aditi’s family was one of the first in the community.
After grade school, Aditi would go on to start her bachelor’s degree at Campion College in Katmandu. She worked towards a degree in humanities and social sciences, focusing on sociology and the study of English. But Aditi would also go on to become a bit of a polyglot; she speaks several languages, including Nepali, Hindi, English and a smattering of Punjabi.
Aditi would meet her husband — at the time, a captain in the army — through a mutual friend while she was attending post-secondary. They got married in 2009 and had their first child a year later: a son named Adithya.
“I absolutely love kids!” Aditi says. Her second son was not long after that, with Akshaj born in 2014. But much happened in the interim years: namely, her immigration to the country she now calls home.
Her husband had already applied for residency in Canada while she was still in college, and Aditi was added after. The family came to Brampton, Ontario in 2011, where Aditi was officially a guest of the country for two months. It was not the ideal place for her, she says.
“Toronto and Brampton, it’s a fast life there,” Aditi says. “Calgary is much more relaxed.”
They found Calgary to be an incredible place to raise a family in their research and they arrived in the city in 2013. They knew no one at all at the time.
At first, it was difficult. Aditi says that taking transit, waiting for one of several busses to her destination in the cold of a winter storm, she had thoughts of returning.
“I should go back to Nepal!” she recounts. But over time, she would grow to love Calgary — and the people here.
One of the events which inspired her was the 2013 Alberta Floods, which occurred right after her arrival.
“It was the first time I saw how important volunteering was to the people here,” she says. “Everyone was asking: ‘let us know where we can help’.”
Aditi still hadn’t finished her degree, however, and was working in difficult service jobs for a while after she arrived.
“It’s hard when you have to do something to survive,” she says. “I knew I was meant for more.”
“But it was a good experience!”
The Calgary Immigrant Woman’s Association was instrumental in helping Aditi get to where she is today. They helped provide training, gave Aditi vital experience and provided a platform for her to get a practicum. Her practicum ended up being here at the Kerby Centre and started in 2016: three years after her arrival in Calgary.
“As soon as I started, staff were so friendly and welcoming, and willing to teach,” Aditi says. “They opened the doors I needed so I could learn.”
After her practicum, she started full time in the volunteer department. And now, years later, she’s in a managerial position with Active Aging.
“I do miss seeing volunteers, they are everything at Kerby Centre,” she says. “But I get to do things I’ve never done before [with Active Aging]. Going on trips and indoor skydiving.”
Aditi is a constant source of light and kindness here, and we are so thankful that her life brought her to Unison and Kerby Centre. When we ask the question of what exactly is the Kerby Centre? We may not have an answer yet, but we know Aditi embodies everything positive about the people who work tirelessly to make this place a reality.