Princeton woman honored for helping make town inclusive

“I believe everyone should be included and supported and able to contribute.”

That sums up the feelings of Gloria Gagnon, who was honored last week by Community Living B.C. with a Widening Our World – WOW – award.

More than 60 people were nominated for the award this year across the province, and Gagnon was one of five to receive the prize.

Gagnon has worked for Princeton and District Community Services Society for 16 years, and was nominated for the award by executive director Becky Vermette.

“I have never met a more dedicated and inclusive person than Gloria and feel strongly that she deserves this recognition,” said Vermette in her nomination letter. “Not only does she live and breathe inclusiveness, but she does not treat anyone differently. She pushes our clients to push themselves despite of their diversability!”

Gagnon works with 29 clients – approximately one per cent of the town’s population.

She was instrumental in the success of a program to find employment for the society’s clients and takes satisfaction in the results.

“I actually would walk the cement. I would go to the different stores, people who owned businesses in Princeton, and ask them to if they would like to hire,” she said in an interview with The Spotlight.

Retail businesses, restaurants and the golf course responded to Gagnon, with her clients earning minimum wage.

“Just like you and me they learn to save money to do the things they want to do,” she said. “So many of them have travelled. They have been able to save money to go to Mexico, Alaska, cross country by train and on Disney cruises.”

Vermette noted Gagnon supports her clients outside of the office.

“Gloria goes above and beyond her duties as a CLBC Employment Development and Self Help Supervisor. Outside of work she is constantly opening up avenues and canvassing potential employers for our service recipients. During the Christmas holidays, Gloria hosts a party for our CLBC service recipients where they can all use her phones to contact family members long distance. She gives them a holiday experience that many of them would not get if it weren’t for Gloria’s giving and inclusive nature. Gloria is also a huge advocate for the rights of our clients. It is not uncommon for Gloria to speak up when she feels someone is not being treated the same as everyone else.”

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