| Apr 16, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - April 16, 2009 “Day Away” volunteer of the yearby Julie Druker

Catherine Tysick, NFCS Volunteer of the Year Joan Wyatt, and Candace Bertrim

Thursdays are days to look forward to for many local seniors who meet regularly for the Day Away Program put on by Northern Frontenac Community Services at the Free Methodist Church in Parham.

The gathering on April 9 was special. To celebrate the coming of spring there was the planting of tomato and Sweet William seeds for nature lovers in the group. There was also a special Easter lunch and after the meal seniors tapped their feet and sang along to live country music provided by Anne Banks and Tom Smith, who made the trip from Kingston.

It was also a chance for members of the group, other volunteers and for two members of the NFCS staff, Catherine Tysick and Candace Bertrim, to present long-time volunteer Joan Wyatt of Parham with their Volunteer of the Year Award.

A slide show of various trips and celebrations of the group’s meetings was presented prior to Joan being awarded with a plaque and a bouquet thanking her for her devoted service to the group. Joan has been volunteering with the group since they began meeting almost five years ago.

Tysick made the presentation and recalled how the group began with money that NFCS received from the Ministry of Health to begin a second Day Program for seniors. Parham was the chosen spot and Joan, who had been a member of the Happy Travelers, a Parham seniors group, offered her services on day one.

Joan recalled “Back then I knew I wanted to do something and I have good legs so I knew I could work.” Joan does not drive but lives in Parham within walking distance from the church.

Tysick elaborated on what Joan brings to the group. “She is incredibly hard working, fun, loves to sing, is a great cook and she thinks like we do”. Members piped in their appreciation and pointed out how Joan goes that extra mile by bringing in good ideas and suggestions to the group.

Candace Bertrim added, “She’s very tuned in to clients, is very observant and shares her knowledge. which helps us to follow up with clients”.

Joan was visibly moved by the presentation and said, “When I first started coming here almost five years ago, I never thought I would still be coming today. It’s been really wonderful…It’s a real privilege to come here”.

Joan used to cook for the group before the Meals on Wheels took over catering to the group, roughly two years ago. She also helps with daily projects that have included making wreaths, cookies and cakes, pies and other crafts.

Singing is a special passion of Joan’s and she often shares this passion with the seniors. “I love to sing and I know the words to all of the older songs which the group know and love, so I’ll often lead the sing-a-longs”.

Joan was humbled by the award and said, “There are so many good volunteers out there; to be picked is certainly an honour and I certainly didn’t expect it”.

She added, “These people have become just like my family. We grieve when they pass on and feel bad when they take ill and...well…you just kind of fall in love with them. I’ve always liked to be around older people. Meeting them and hearing about their lives is the most interesting thing. I love to get to know people”.

Wyatt, a 19-year resident of Parham who hails from Cape Breton and is a wife, mother of three and grandmother of four, has every intention of keeping up her work with the All Day Program. Judging from the reception she received at the meeting, her work is definitely not in vain.

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