After 18 years of serving the community as the executive director of the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre, Nancy Gale officially celebrated her retirement Wednesday, March 27.
Gale inherited the job from the founder of the CDC, Aileen Hewitt, who was in attendance to wish her protégé well and has passed the mantle on to Vanessa Riplinger.
Looking back on her years of service and commitment to caring for the children of Williams Lake and the wider Cariboo fills her with pride.
The question that’s always been forefront in her mind while doing her job, planted there by Hewitt, is: “What are you doing for the kids?”
With a great board of directors, staff and community supporting her, she’s been able to help make the CDC into a hub for children and youth throughout the region.
If she had to pick a legacy, however, it would be the work she did in building and staffing the Cariboo Autism Centre. Thanks to it Gale said that Williams Lake autism and other mental disability services are on par with those found in the Lower Mainland.
“They don’t come to us with many physical disabilities, but we find they come to us with lots of social and emotional, so we’ve had to shift our services,” Gale remarked.
“So we’ve got a pretty extensive array of services for children with neurological disorders and we have a paediatrician and a child psychiatrist that live and work in this building. We’re a one-stop shop.”
At her party, in addition to Hewitt, were dozens of staff members, board members, parents, friends and other dignitaries who all came out to honour Gale and the work she’s done over the years.
The theme was one of travel, as Gale intends to visit places around the world now that she’s retired.
“I’ve always been working in terms of trying to do community development within this community so it’s nice to see a great cross-section of people I’ve worked with, people I’ve taught at the community college and a lot of clients whose lives we’ve been able to touch,” Gale said.
“I’m going to be travelling to Portugal and then I’ll come back home and see what’s next,” Gale said with a chuckle.
“It’s just the beginning. I’ll be back in a couple of months rested and full of energy. So watch out, I’m looking for a project.”