People of Collingwood: Jeff Cepukas, technology assistant at the Collingwood Public Library
While he may spend his days with computers, his evenings and weekends are spent on the stage.
For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we spoke with Jeff Cepukas, 36, technology assistant at the Collingwood Public Library.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Owen Sound. My dad got a job at the airport in London, so I grew up in London.
I went to college in Kingston, which is where I met my partner Vanessa.
We moved out to Lake Louise and lived there for four or five years.
We lived in B.C. for a year.
As we were getting older, we were missing family birthdays and weddings, and we decided we wanted to come back.
We chased jobs for a bit. We moved to St. Catharines and I worked at Niagara College for a while. I worked in maintenance. It was a means to an end for a while.
The pandemic hit and Vanessa and I were both laid off.
We decided that instead of going where the work is, maybe we should go somewhere that checks all the boxes of somewhere we want to live and make it work.
That’s what led us to Collingwood.
Q: What specifically brought you to Collingwood?
A: We turned our focus to finding jobs here. I ended up getting a job at Blue Mountain in their grounds department in 2020, because that was basically the only department that was running.
It was a bold move, I guess, because it was minimum wage in one of the most expensive areas in Ontario. I got a staff accommodation in Blue Mountain.
It was a good way to test the waters before committing and moving everything up here. I got in working at the Westin doing maintenance, which bumped me up in wages.
We got an apartment. That was a monumental task in itself, because you’d see a listing and it would be up for an hour, and I would send an email and it would already be rented.
Eventually, we got lucky and found a great place we’re still living in now.
Q: When did you start in your role as technology assistant at the library?
A: I was the building operator for the library originally, covering for someone who was on a paternity leave. I wanted to get in with the town, and it was a good, entry-level contract spot for me.
I started in a permanent part-time role last September, but then my name was put out for other things. The Town of Collingwood needed support with streaming council meetings, so I deal with the Zoom and YouTube streaming, and I assisted with the clerk’s department. That was a cool thing to add to the list.
I’ve kind of become the town’s tech guy and fill in the blanks where needed.
Q: What does the tech assistant do?
A: I run the tech suite, help with room bookings, run the Zoom/YouTube streaming for council meetings, and tech appointments for seniors. That’s a rewarding part of it.
The room bookings is a big part of my job. It takes up the majority of my time. We’re doing staff parties, birthday parties, business meetings… our room bookings are kind of going crazy. There’s a lot of demand for it. As the town grows, the need for space grows.
Working at the library, there are so many things that come up in a day that you never really expect.
Q: What do you do outside of work?
A: I’ve always liked the arts. My sister went to school for fine arts and she’s an artist, and my dad took it up upon retirement.
He passed on a bunch of records to me. I collect them. I have way more than I should have in an apartment.
I just performed in Gaslight Theatre this year.
I had never been on stage before. That was something I always regretted.
One of the benefits of being in a smaller town like Collingwood is it felt more approachable. Other bigger cities I’ve lived in also had things like that, but I thought they wouldn’t want an amateur like me.
I auditioned and I was only hoping to get maybe a one-liner. I ended up getting a lead role.
The play was called Wild Goose Chase. This story was based on an old ad for a hair growth serum. My character is coming back from New York and his hair wasn’t what he wanted it to be. Simultaneously, a bylaw was passed in Collingwood that anyone who brought livestock animals to a pen would be paid a reward. My character gets the idea that to afford the hair magic, he’s going to wrangle the animals. Hilarity ensues.
It was a fun play and it had that historical element. It was fun to act out.
Q: With this being your first foray into community theatre, what did you learn?
A: I learned a lot. My memory still works.
I don’t think I’ve had to memorize anything since public school.
It was nice to put myself out of my comfort zone. Doing the audition, it was an insane rush. I wanted to tackle that fear.
I did a monologue, and I was shaking. I got in the car after and I yelled. I had so much pent-up energy.
It was a ton of fun, and a rewarding experience.
It was a rush that I’ll keep trying to chase. I’ll definitely do this again next year.
Q: What does your future hold?
A: I really want to stay here. Getting involved with the town has really helped get some roots down. I’d like to eventually buy a house here. We’re both trying to save. I know we’re not alone in that.
We remind ourselves that the quality of life here is so much higher. I’d rather rent here than own in the GTA.
Being able to walk to dentists, doctors, coffee shops… I can’t see myself going anywhere else.
Other than affordable housing, it checks every box for us.
Q: Is there anything else you want people in Collingwood to know about you?
A: I’m happy to be here. I hope to stay here. Keep an eye out for the next theatre production – I might be in it!
Things work out if you put good energy out there.
For our feature People of Collingwood, we speak with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature runs on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email [email protected].