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Manny Atance knew his first day at Providence Healthcare would be important for his career, but he didn’t know how significant it would be for his personal life. Unknowingly at the time, his first day at Providence was also the day he met his future mother-in-law.

“I was working the evening shift, and Nevenka, who worked in housekeeping, came in to clean the
space,” says the Clinical Resource Coordinator at Providence’s Adult Day Program (ADP) of his first day, back in 1997. They had a nice chat, but Manny didn’t think too much of it.

Nevenka, on the other hand, was quick to tell her daughter Susie all about the interaction.

“She mentioned there was a cute guy working in ADP,” says Susie. “I was like, ‘OK, let me go check this out.’”

The next week, Susie, who also worked in housekeeping at Providence, swapped work zones with her mom to clean the ADP space—and to meet her future husband.

Intrigued by the new face and with the ADP activities all finished for the day, Manny decided to introduce himself and even give Susie a hand with cleaning. While chatting, he learned that the housekeeper had emigrated from the former Yugoslavia and was enrolled in English second language (ESL) courses.

“I thought she seemed like a really nice person, and I thought she was attractive,” says Manny. “So I said, ‘You know, I can help you with your ESL if you want.’”

Excited by the opportunity to get to know Manny, Susie accepted the offer, even though she was already acing her classes.

“I had a feeling that he would be the one,” says Susie of that first encounter, Manny smirking with nostalgia.

After their meet, the duo created a friendship, which turned into something more following an hours-long lunch at the Scarborough Town Centre and dinner at a buffet, which Nevenka chaperoned.

As time went on, Manny fell in love with Susie’s work ethic, intelligence and understanding personality, and Susie fell in love with Manny’s passion for family and kind, caring personality.

“I found my one,” says Susie.

“Destiny played a part in this,” says Manny.

Four years into their courtship, Manny decided to propose, and he chose Providence as the location for the event.

Susie was no longer working at Providence at the time as she left to pursue college and then work in administration, but Manny was able to get her to the site by inviting her to a party that was being held there.

With the ADP community and Nevenka in attendance, Manny popped the question and Susie happily accepted.

Susie, Manny and Nevenka at Susie and Manny’s engagement (left photo); Susie and Mannie’s wedding (right photo)

The pair planned for a wedding in July 2002, but after Nevenka was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, they rushed to organize their wedding a few months earlier to ensure she’d be able to come.

On Jan. 26, 2002, with Nevenka and other family members and friends in attendance, the couple tied the knot at Susie’s family’s church.

The location for their second wedding in July 2002? The chapel at Providence.

“It just seemed so fitting,” says Manny on why they chose Providence as their wedding venue. The hospital was where they had both worked, where they met and where they got engaged, and it would later be where they baptized their two kids and where Manny’s mom would eventually reside.

Baptisms at Providence

“Providence defined me and it’s also defined our marriage in some ways,” says Manny. “Providence helped make it all happen.”

Flash forward to today, the couple just celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary by going to a local buffet, a nod to their first chaperoned date in 1997. Nevenka was not in attendance this time around, but she is alive and well having beaten her battle with cancer.

Reflecting on their more than two decades of marriage, Manny and Susie attribute their relationship success to their willingness to listen, compromise, and understand and prioritize each other.

“She accepts me for my strengths, but certainly for my faults and flaws,” says Manny with tears in his eyes. “She’s everything to me.”

Echoing her husband, Susie says, “I couldn’t ask for better. He’ll do anything for us. He works so hard to make sure we are well taken care of.”

The duo are quick to credit each other for their marital success, and they also give much recognition to the place where it all began.

“We’re just grateful to Providence; this place has meant so much to us,” Manny and Susie agree. “It all starts here.”

By: Kaitlin Jingco

Photos courtesy of Manny and Susie

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