A long-time volunteer has been recognized at a provincial level.
Kay Deedrick, a volunteer with Family and Community Support Services, recently received an Award of Merit from Alberta Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) after being nominated by Lacombe’s local chapter.
Deedrick said that she appreciates the nomination from the local office and added that their appreciation is all the thanks she needs.
She added that, in any case, volunteering is its own reward as she finds it quite enjoyable.
“You know, everyone likes to do things, do something, for somebody,” said Deedrick. “It makes you good when you do something for somebody that can’t do it for themselves.”
With two decades of service, Deedrick is the longest serving volunteer at Lacombe FCSS.
She first became involved with FCSS when the organization was having trouble between staffing and budgeting, she said.
According to Deedrick, FCSS had more work than its two full-time and two part-time staff members could accomplish, but didn’t have the budget to hire another employee to lighten the load.
Knowing someone on the FCSS board, Deedrick asked her friend why FCSS was not using volunteers to pick up the extra work. Deedrick added that, at the time, she had just returned from living in Germany where volunteers were used extensively in the school system and that she herself had worked in the library of the school on the military base in Germany her husband was stationed at.
It stood to reason for Deedrick that volunteers could be successfully used by Lacombe FCSS as well.
In the end, she wound up volunteering herself.
“I was told to ‘Step up or shut up’,” said Deedrick with a laugh.
However, she said she was quite pleased to help out.
Before volunteering with FCSS, Deedrick was a member of Lacombe’s Council on Aging in the 70s.
It was that program that eventually led to her being coordinator for the Meals on Wheels program in 1975 and working with FCSS.
Deedrick is quite proud of her accomplishments while working as coordinator for Meals on Wheels and rightfully so. Today, the program runs more or less autonomously under FCSS but Deedrick said the church delivery system the program now uses was her idea.
When faced with the problem of how to deliver all the meals for the program, Deedrick suggested contacting local churches in Lacombe and asking them to get involved.
Her idea worked and Deedrick said to this day Lacombe’s churches take turns delivering meals for Meals on Wheels.
“It’s worked beautifully all this time.”
While Deedrick was the first ever coordinator of the Meals on Wheels program, she said most of the work she did with FCSS had nothing to do with that program. Instead, Deedrick said the majority of her volunteer work with FCSS regarded her helping fill out applications and forms for seniors.
Deedrick said that there are a number of programs and benefits seniors can apply for once they turn 65 such as old age security, Canada pension and Alberta senior benefits. However, Deedrick added that many of the forms were difficult to understand for the individuals applying.
“All these forms are a little overwhelming for lots of people.”
So, it was Deedrick’s job to get the necessary information from those individuals and fill out the forms for them.
Deedrick said that when she herself needed help understanding the forms, she would call a lawyer, accountant, or another friend who could help explain things to her.
“I learned as I went,” said Deedrick. “I learned by doing.”
Deedrick said that learning was one of her favourite parts of volunteering and one of the reasons she continues to do it today.
In addition to these jobs, Deedrick sat on the local housing authority, serving for 10 years as director and chair.
Today, Deedrick still volunteers as a board member with Kozy Korner, Lacombe’s seniors centre and has been doing so for about 15 years, she said.
As no one has been with FCSS longer than her, Deedrick added that she still gets the occasional phone call from FCSS workers asking for help on issues.