Growing up in the north end of Halifax, Darryl Coffey saw Northwood as just another part of his neighbourhood. “I can remember the site here before the Centre was built,” he says. “I also remember coming down when the Queen came to visit in 1976.” So it worked out well when he was hired on November 1, 1980 to work part time in the dish room at the age of 16.
After graduating from high school and figuring out he was interested in cooking, Darryl starting the culinary arts program at to NSIT on Leeds Street. Two years later, in 1984, he received his Red Seal Journeyman papers and was promoted to first cook at Northwood. In 1992, Darryl moved into the production supervisor role and is now in charge of kitchen operations, ordering food, creating recipes, managing food shortages, as well as overseeing the meals created for Meals on Wheels, Out & About and Supportive Living.
With nearly 36 years of service come a lot of memories! When Darryl first came to Northwood, he says there was a dining room and servery on the main floor of the Manor (where the Fitness Centre is now), where Manor residents would come down to eat their meals. Food services staff would serve the food from behind an open steam table. He also remembers when the Harbourview Lounge (known then as Tiffany’s then) had a fountain in the middle of the room, two snooker tables and a pool room in the back.
“Northwood has been more than just a job for me,” says Darryl. “Many of my coworkers have become family, and like any family, we always come together to make everything work.”
Speaking of family, Darryl’s wife Florence also spent 30 years working at Northwood. “Florence got a job here in 1981 and didn’t even tell me,” he says. “I came to work and saw her and said, ‘what are you doing here?’” Most of the time, Darryl was her boss, but he says they always found a way to leave work and work, and home at home.
Looking back, Darryl says he never thought he’d stay this long at Northwood, but can’t imagine working anywhere else. “You have your good day and your bad days, but that comes with every job. Northwood has always been a good place to work.”
Darryl and Florence have a son named Shawn and two grandchildren; Liam (10) and Abby (8), who live with them. He owned a catering business for 13 years and a restaurant for three and a half years. Darryl enjoys making and painting ceramics, swimming in the summer and spending time with his family.