This column was submitted by the Kelowna and District Society for Community Living in acknowledgement that October is Community Living Month in British Columbia.
Eleanor Roosevelt said: "The most important thing in any relationship is not what you get, but what you give."
If you visit KDSCL on a Tuesday morning, you may notice a small, energetic, woman volunteering with an activity group making ‘crafts’. Known as ‘Mrs. H’, Jean Hadgraft, has been caring for her community for over 61 years.
In her craft class they make various paper crafts, floral creations, seasonal crafts and paintings. Though Jean creates most of the crafts, she notes a favourite memory is when the class took boxes to make into card holders at Christmas and someone suggested they make them into sleighs – a tradition was born and they’ve been doing them ever since.
Jean is modest and doesn’t like a fuss to be made over her, but it is important to point out some of her significant volunteer achievements. Her energy and determination helped her run a public school library for six years, develop programs for children with Down’s Syndrome and other learning disabilities, re-edit text books for learning disabled and serve on numerous councils, boards and committees.
Jean and Bob, her husband of 62 years, have three children (Sue, Rob and Jim), six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The family has lived in three States and two Provinces.
For the past twenty years, Jean, Bob and Jim have lived in Kelowna. Both Jean and Bob are donors to KDSCL and serve on the New Building Fund Raising Committee. Jean has also recently become a member of the KDSCL Board of Directors.
Jean does what she does because ‘I look at the face in the mirror, and I better be able to look at the face in the mirror.’ Her attitude has ensured that her children were raised as individuals and could ‘face any adversity and climb over it’.
A passionate advocate for the rights of people with developmental disabilities, Jean has made a significant impact everywhere she has lived.
She notes, ‘I am very outspoken, don’t suffer fools gladly’. Her work has influenced the rights not only of her own child but the lives of the mentally challenged. As she points out “Everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve learned what you can do with people with developmental disabilities.”
Change starts with people like Jean Hadgraft, who use their time and talents to make sure everyone is included in the life of a community.
To find out more about the Kelowna and District Society for Community Living, please visit www.kdscl.bc.ca
To find out how you can be part of change, visit www.unitedwaycso.com