Princeton volunteer Joyce Fraser was one of 34 British Columbians to win a 2012 B.C. Community Achievement Award honouring people who have made a significant contribution to their community.
In 1973 Fraser saw a need in Princeton for transportation and home support for seniors.
She established and managed the Princeton and District Community Services Society for 29 years.
“From creating a training centre for the developmentally disabled to supportive housing, Joyce has had a remarkable effect on her community,” the provincial government said when announcing the awards.
“I started delivering prescriptions for people with no cars. I realized there was a lot of people who needed help,” said Fraser, who quit her job at a drug store to volunteer full time.
Her decade-long volunteer work with the community took off after she went to Victoria to get funding.
Fraser, who is now retired, opened the Mini Chef Restaurant in Princeton, a place where handicapped people helped make and serve the food.
“People travelled from Vancouver to eat there. It was a huge success,” she said, adding the same cook was on staff for two decades.
The restaurant closed down after 20 years when the employees began to retire.
“I was very honoured and speechless [to win the award],” said Fraser, who credits her husband’s constant help with the society.
She first became interested in helping people with disabilities while training to be a psychiatric nurse at a mental hospital in Saskatchewan. She didn’t like the way the patients were treated.
Fraser’s services help people in Hedley, Tulameen, Coalmont and other communities close to Princeton.
She was influential in creating Vermillion Court, the first assisted living facility in B.C.
“When I discovered a need that a lot of people had that I could fill, it was powerful,” she said. “I get a lot of joy from people I work with and help.”
Princeton Community Services include three independent living houses for adults with disabilities, a long-term loan wheelchair service, adult day centre for seniors who live in their own homes, a day program for those with developmental disabilities and Vermillion Court, a place for senior and physically handicapped people to live with all services under one roof.