When Kathryn Beaumier started with Saanich Volunteer Services she had just spent 10 years as a stay-at-home mom.
It was 1993, and the Saanich Volunteer Services startup executive director, Marg Kennett, visited to interview Beaumier in her own kitchen.
Beaumier was celebrated at her retirement party as office co-ordinator of 23 years in the Saanich Volunteer Services McRae House office on Friday.
“I was nervous, but from the moment I saw the ad in the Saanich News I knew I wanted to be here,” she said. “It’s funny because the interview was in my own kitchen and it was for a volunteer position, but that’s what happens when you haven’t worked for a while.”
Friday’s retirement party brought out a who’s-who of Saanich Volunteer Services volunteers and staff. That included Mary-Joan Sharkey, the first volunteer with SVS (Beaumier was the second) and Maxine Reed, the third volunteer. Kennett brought them all on in the first year, when she started the SVS on $21,000 worth of Saanich money in 1992.
Reed recalls sharing her 20 years of experience in the provincial government with Beaumier, when the latter took on a more serious role in 1993.
“We had one phone, and no computers, and we were growing, but the fun part is we knew what we needed,” Reed said. “At first [Beaumier] would come to me and ask for help, and then she took over. She was very upbeat, competent, always mellow and easy to work with, for that I love her.”
Beaumier recalls shifting from their first office in the old municipal hall where they shared one phone and had no bathroom, to the Lambrick House in 1993 (where they had two phones and a bathroom), to the McRae House in 1994.
She graduated from acting as the receptionist two days a week in 1993 and took over additional duties of payroll and financials as the office co-ordinator, which she did at four days a week until this summer.
“The job has been so rewarding, my heart is still here [with SVS], that’s what will be difficult,” Beaumier said. “But I’m ready for some quiet time in my garden, my office is a very busy place.”
A stained glass window over the door at the McRae House is one of the remaining legacies of Beaumier’s, who raised the money for the window in lieu of flowers when her mother passed away, and chipped in the balance herself.
Saanich Volunteer Services relies on 10 volunteer receptionists who handle the reception duties and dispatch the 130 volunteers (mostly drivers) who serve more than 1,000 Saanich seniors. For more information visit saanichvolunteers.org.