Letters to the Editor – from Lindsay Pratt

Retiring seniors’ lodge manager provided great service

To the Editor:

It is with mixed emotions that we announce the retirement of Suzanne Olscamp, our Site Manager at Vanderwell Heritage Place. We are very sad to see Suzanne leave us as she has been an outstanding leader within our organization, but we are also very happy to see her enjoy a well-deserved retirement. Suzanne’s last official day will be July 1st, 2021.

Suzie, as her co-workers affectionately call her, has been an integral part of our lodge since 1996. Suzanne began her journey with us in housekeeping. Five years later, she worked her way into the Activity Coordinator’s position which she held for another five years. Suzanne was then promoted to Site Manager in 2007, where she remained until June 2014 when she decided to retire and move out of town. In March 2015, the Board requested Suzanne’s return to help for three months and as remained has Site Manager since then.

Throughout her career, Suzanne has seen many changes implemented at Vanderwell Lodge. Long-time resident, Margarete Vanderwell, who passed away in 2009, was a key character in seeing that the Vanderwell Heritage Place was built in Slave Lake.

The first expansion was the south wing, adding six suites, followed by another six suites in the west wing, plus renovations in the kitchen area. The dining room was also modernized at that time.

The three-storey expansion, designed to allow the future growth of the lodge, was completed May 1st, 2011. The key features were large common areas, including computer stations, library, television area, resident laundry rooms on each floor, a beautiful exercise room, a chapel, a hair salon, and a well-ventilated smoking room. On the third floor, the residents have access to a beautiful closed-in patio. An outside sitting courtyard was added as well as a residents’ garden area.

Throughout the years, Suzanne has led us through many challenges;

The May 15th wildfire in 2011 resulted in the evacuation of all the residents. In 2019 during the fire season, we found ourselves under standby evacuation again. In 2020, we faced the COVID-19 pandemic. Lesser Slave Lake Regional Housing Authority, is being as proactive as possible to stop Covid-19 from coming into our facility. At this point, our seniors and staff have received their vaccines and we have had no confirmed cases yet. Suzanne came up with many innovative ideas to keep seniors connected to their families.

Over the years, Suzanne had the privilege to grow with many of the residents. She has developed a very strong relationship with them and has supported and encouraged them in many ways. For Suzanne, the focus has always been on the seniors; they come first no matter what and she strives to create a mutually respectful environment with the residents.

Suzanne and staff have always encouraged the seniors to maintain healthy lifestyles by providing them with a variety of activities, physical movement and socializing with their peers.

Some of these activities would not be possible without the help of the community. We are very blessed with the generosity of our community members. Without their donations, many of our projects would not be possible. In return, our seniors are always willing to give back to our community. The knitting club has donated toques, blankets, and slippers to various organizations.

Suzanne wishes to leave you all with a quote from A.A. Milne’s, Winnie-the-Pooh, that honestly reflects the way she feels, – “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

On behalf of everyone at LSLRHA, we would like to wish Suzanne the best in her retirement. These will be big shoes to fill, but Suzanne has set a strong foundation for the next manager.

LSLRHA will start the difficult process of finding a replacement for Suzanne; anyone interested please contact LSL Regional Housing Authority CAO Lindsay Pratt at 780-523-8518, or email [email protected] heartriverhousing.ca
Application will close May 27th, 2021 with interviews to follow.

Lindsay Pratt
CAO, LSL Housing Authority

Suzanne Olscamp

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