Working in Nonprofits
People in Nonprofits
Location: New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
Organization: Highland Community Residential Services
Position: Residential Support Worker
Length of Service: 2 years
After 38 years with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, Margie Beck was ready to retire, however she wasn't ready to stop working. Like many people who have had long and fulfilling careers in the private or public sector, Margie didn't want "to be put out to pasture," as she says, so she started working part-time as a residential support worker with Highland Community Residential Services (HCRS) in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
A community agency providing residential support services for people with developmental disabilities, HCRS turned out to be an ideal fit for Margie, who had spent her career at the school board working with special needs children and their families. One of the reasons she decided to apply was that she could use the skills, knowledge and community networks acquired during her tenure at the school board directly in her work with HCRS. "In fact, many of the students that I worked with in the past are clients of HCRS," she says. It's wonderful that I am able to stay connected with them and their families."
Margie enjoys the new-found flexibility of working on a part-time basis. With a work schedule that averages 20 hours per week, Margie still has plenty of time to pursue her other interests, including spending time with her grandchildren and gardening.
While she may only work part-time, Margie is involved in several HCRS programs including the innovative United In Friendship, a program that works with parents and special needs children to develop sustainable friendships with other children. "Having good friends is one of the most important things in a child's life," says Margie. "Whether it's through crafts, games, or outings, the kids play together and become friends. It makes a world of difference come September when they go back to school, knowing that they already have friends." She also supports a summer recreation program for 25 children and is actively involved in the development of a support group for parents.
Another reason Margie chose to work at HCRS was that she could free herself from administrative work, and focus on what she loves: working directly with clients and their families. "I get to do the things I did before, but without the pressure and stress of managing budgets and traveling a lot," she recounts. "It's great to sit at a kitchen table and talk with parents over tea about the progress their child is making instead of sitting in a boardroom presenting budget proposals."
One of the things that Margie enjoys most about working at HRCS is that she is part of diverse team that bring so many different and unique perspectives and experiences. "After working for 38 years, I've learned that you can't possibly have all of the answers all of the time. It's great to be able to draw upon the expertise and knowledge of those around you." Margie also points out the value of working with people of a younger generation. "They bring a tremendous amount of energy to work, which keeps us all on our toes," she says. "Young people are bigger risk-takers in terms of looking at jobs, but they always seem to sell themselves short - they think they need a PhD or classroom training - but real life skills are important too. If they can be team players and roll with the punches they'll be set to work anywhere."
With her dedication to the children and families that she works with and her desire to keep busy, it doesn't look like Margie will be "retiring" from her post-retirement job any time soon. "I'm not a senior citizen at 57. I still have a long time to go - I might learn to play golf when I'm 85."
For more information about Highland Community Residential Services, please visit www.nsnet.org/hcrs.