Volunteering is a way of life and one local community member is getting the recognition the community feels she certainly deserves.
Evelyn Small, 82, is Beta Sigma Phi’s choice for the 2016-2017 Lady of the Year. She was born and raised in a small town in Saskatchewan just north of Regina and growing up Small had to carry her own weight to ensure everything was taken care of. Notwithstanding being the recipient of the Lady of the Year award, Small stressed that she hasn’t done all her volunteer work just for the credit; it was more of a way of life.
“I’ve never considered myself a volunteer, I do it because I want to. I guess I was brought up in early war years and post war years where it was a thing that everybody did. It was a way of life,” said Small.
Having always found ways to keep busy, she is involved in many organizations including the Lending Cupboard, the Red Hat Society, as well as Camp Quality. Despite all the work she is currently doing, Small’s favourite memory of volunteering dates back to when she was only 18 and working as an unpaid lifeguard with the Red Cross in Regina. One summer Small and a group of other lifeguards ended up teaching swimming lessons to a group of amputees. Small stressed how the happiness they felt and moments like that made the entire volunteering endeavor worthwhile. As Small grew older her longing to keep busy and keep active never diminished. This went as far as seeking out employment even after retiring just to continue dealing with people.
“I just like people, I’m a people person. I missed work very badly when I retired so I found silly things to do for $6/hour just get me out of the house.”
Small’s love for people has also helped her get through some tough times, as the road has not been entirely easy for her. She unfortunately was widowed at the age of 47, but through her family and volunteer work she has been able to overcome many of the obstacles that life threw at her. Being a mother of four boys, and a happy grandmother of nine, as well as a great grandmother of three, family and friends have proven to be instrumental towards Small’s happiness.
Dawn Macleod is the chairperson of the Lady of the Year committee and said Small’s emphasis on community, friendship, and family all played a major role as too why she was chosen as this year’s recipient of Lady of the Year award. Macleod also commented about how she hopes others see Small’s story and the joy she receives from volunteering as motivation to get up, get involved and volunteer in their communities.
“Hopefully more people will be encouraged to do it more if they hear about it. I think most people think, ‘Well if I’m not getting paid I just don’t have the time’, then they see something like this and you would hope that it would encourage people to get the joy from volunteering,” said Macleod.
One such example of someone who has been motivated by Small is her granddaughter Ashley Small. Ashley started volunteering with her grandmother when she was 10-years-old as kitchen staff members at Camp Quality. Despite her heavy workload at Red Deer College, Ashley has since moved up the ladder and is now more heavily involved with Camp Quality alongside other organizations. Ashley feels that despite how difficult it is to juggle both school and volunteering, she finds a way to do it because of how much value she places on giving back to the community.
“I think you just have to have time to focus on school, but there is always time for giving back to people. If it something that’s important to you, you’re going to make the time to do it,” said Ashley.
Ashley added in her eyes, recognition plays a huge role in volunteering and awards such as the Lady of the Year award are fantastic opportunities to shine a light on prominent community members like her grandmother. She explained that despite the fact Evelyn doesn’t volunteer for the recognition, the mere fact she’s getting some form of formal appreciation must mean the world to her grandmother.
“I don’t think she’s going out and volunteering just for the awards, I mean that’s not what she does. But I do think it’s nice to be recognized for the hard work that you’ve put into the community for all these years because she does so much for so many organizations and for her to be recognized for it, I’m sure it means the world to her,” said Ashley.