The end of an era
Nor Dun Seniors’ Support Centre’s Manager Nancy Gibson retires after a 25-year career with Carefor, and will pass the torch to Dianne Kupers.      Sawyer Helmer photos

Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
Record Staff
WINCHESTER – Nancy Gibson began her career after attending the University of Guelph. Despite studying horticulture, she took classes relating to social services and the health-care field and realized a passion for helping others. Gibson started out in medical offices and then worked with the Red Cross for 10 to 11 years doing similar work as she has done at Carefor. It was 25 years ago that she took her position with Carefor and began her journey through the Eastern Townships.

Nor Dun Seniors’ Support Centre Manager Nancy Gibson, who retired on Fri., June 2, witnessed many clients to wish her well at the celebration. From left in the photo are Iva Stewart, Donna Wilson, Muriel McRae, Murla Timmins, Mavis Graham (seated) and Nancy Gibson. Sawyer Helmer photo

“This is a fulfilling kind of work where you can see the difference that we make,” said Gibson. This was the sentiment that drew her to a career in the health-care field. Carefor has grown enormously during Gibson’s career. She explained that what once began as services that helped a few hundred people has elevated to thousands.

Gibson works primarily out of the Winchester office, the Nor Dun Senior Services Centre, but was adamant that each and every centre is equally important to her and the services that are provided. “I have gotten to know so many clients in the eastern counties and am on a first name basis with many of them,” explained Gibson. She added that it has been important to her that clients, anyone who has need of the many services provided, can live where they want and have access to the services they need. “To me, as something that we have done, this stood out for me,” said Gibson. On that note, Gibson said she has been excited about the accessible transportation initiative. Rural residents with health needs used to have to take ambulances in order to get somewhere important. Gibson was part of the team that brought accessible transportation to the small communities making it easier for clients to get around.

“There have been a lot of wonderful moments [in my career],” said Gibson. The building of the centres being one of them. Winchester, Finch and Chesterville all have local sites making it accessible and easy for clients to get the services they need. “No matter where you lived, it wasn’t too far,” she added. The Winchester and Finch buildings were built in 1993 with the open house happening in 1994. Chesterville opened shortly after. These centres are not just for the health services though. Gibson said these centres offer clients a place, “to come to congregate as well.”

Gibson will be passing the torch to Dianne Kupers who is working out of the Cornwall office. Gibson said she was feeling very good about the transition and wants to make sure the clients know that nothing will be changing. The staff at each centre has met with Kupers and will be staying in their positions. Gibson added that Kupers has done a tremendous job of meeting the staff at each site and Gibson is confident Kupers will put her own spin on the job.

As for Gibson, she said she will be taking some time to relax after a long career. As a self-proclaimed creative, she will be spending her time exploring three of her passions: building furniture, gardening and travel. First and foremost though she is looking forward to spending more time with family. Her daughters joked that it is like a family retirement as they have been volunteers for much of their lives. Gibson is confident though that her daughters will continue to volunteer when possible and that she herself is looking forward to getting involved once she has had some time to relax and enjoy her retirement. Gibson added that it is the “wonderful volunteers” who help make Carefor such a booming success.

At the end of the day, Gibson said she hopes her career has shown clients that the services they need are accessible, “that we are approachable and it’s not complicated to get what you need. It’s for you [the clients].”

The staff and community threw a final farewell on Gibson’s last day, Fri., June 2, at the Nor Dun Centre. Clients, friends and community members were all invited to celebrate Gibson’s last day. Dozens of clients made an appearance for the retirement tea and Gibson was busy making the rounds to share stories and thanks. One of the Carefor volunteers even made a custom decorated cake for Gibson, with intricate designs of flowers. The time and effort put into the meaningful gift was a reflection of Gibson’s own dedication and care for her job. Though the staff are sad to see Gibson go, the retirement tea was bustling with excitement for her future endeavours.