ATHABASCA – Road to Hope, the well-known and well-used non-profit based in Athabasca no longer has Madena Reimer as its transportation coordinator.
Reimer, the co-creator of the regional cancer support service that takes patients to their appointments in the city, was stunned to receive a late-night email telling her that her position as transportation coordinator was terminated, just a week after she was laid off due to the pandemic and after 10 years of dedicating her life to the organization she named.
“I'm still in shock actually. I am sad some days and then some days I'm kind of over it. I thought I'd be with Road to Hope until I was 90. I mean, I helped create this, I named it, I watched it grow and then I just get bumped to the curb. No thank you for 10 years of dedication,” Reimer said June 25.
The drivers rallied around Reimer though, throwing her a farewell party June 29 at Centennial Park, on the hill across the river, presenting her with gifts and glowing praise individually and in a speech given by Sheena Pacholok.
“Ten years ago, Madena was instrumental in the creation of what has become a lifesaving program for many people in the Athabasca-Lac La Biche area. She has been on the other end of the Road to Hope phone day and night for the past 10 years,” Pacholok said.
It is hard to tell where Road to Hope starts and Reimer ends as she is well-known in the community and to the many clients and drivers over the years.
“It’s an incredible chapter in my life; this was a huge part of me and my life story. I loved my job and I was very grateful to be able to connect on a personal level to provide compassion and hope to our clients on their journeys,” Reimer said.
Reimer is a cancer survivor herself and when Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. approached her to help set up the non-profit organization in 2008 she jumped in with both feet and her whole heart, she said.
“I took on this job as coordinator with my whole heart. It was my passion and mission and purpose,” Reimer said.
That heart was evident in those who gathered to both wish her farewell, and some to meet the woman they had talked to so often for the very first time.
Dave Moseley left Lac La Biche in a rainstorm, unsure if the weather would be good enough in Athabasca for the farewell party.
“She was there since my intake. She has always been positive and helpful. She is the face and voice of Road to Hope,” Moseley said. “My whole experience has been positive and Madena has been a big part of that.”
Bill Savage of Boyle felt compelled to meet Reimer for the first time, thanking her for bringing him out of a depression and presented her with a stuffed toy white tiger.
“She was a life saver for me. I waited for her to call; it was one phone call I never missed. I’m sad, but I’m just so happy I met her. I worked for her for three or four years and never met,” Savage said.
George Saunders said Reimer had a knack of matching clients to the drivers and bonds are formed over the many trips they make together.
“She’s been an angel for a lot of people in this organization for drivers and clients. She’s been the face of this operation for years and years,” said Saunders.
Road to Hope past president Jan Overacker said Reimer will be missed and that people probably do not realize what she put into the group.
“There’s lots Madena did and does people aren’t aware of, more than people realize. We are going to miss her,” she said.
Reimer is taking some time to come to terms with the abrupt loss of her position. She said she is looking to the future, knowing in some way she will continue helping others.
“I will forge ahead and find strength to go on in the midst of what lies ahead for me in unknown, uncharted waters and have hope that whatever is meant for me will find a way. I am grateful to God for aligning me in the making of this foundation when I too was in my own cancer journey and trying to find my own strength, light and hope,” Reimer said.
“Just because someone interrupted my story it doesn’t mean they get to take the script and write the ending; it’s still my journey. My head is held very high for a job well done because at the end of the day my life is defined by what is etched in the hearts and lives of whom I have made a difference."
Road to Hope did not respond to a request for comment.
Heather Stocking, TownandCountryToday.com
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