Jill Fehr has quite a history with the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS). She has now retired, and I would like to tell you about her journey.
At one time, TAPS was located in the Creston Valley Hospital, and was funded by the government. Jill came to manage TAPS on Nov. 4, 1992. When the government discontinued the funding, Jill took it upon herself to contact people in the community to take it public. Jill contacted Alex Nilsson in tears and with his tireless help, TAPS moved to its present location.
They were able to obtain the building it is in now on 22nd Avenue, and like-minded people to help get it going, If it were not for Jill, TAPS would be no more. Negotiations were led by Alex to get buildings from the school, transportation, wages for Jill, the community resource centre (Serena Naeve) to handle TAPS under its umbrella, Donna Carlyle to write grants and volunteers to help run the day-to-day stuff. Patt, Marg, Bonnie and Joyce volunteered to have a craft sale to raise funds for TAPS; they are now called the Krafty Kronys, along with many members. This has turned into a major fundraising group.
In interviewing Jill, she just wanted to talk about the seniors and the programs at TAPS. This is a lady who is very humble, and has a very big heart when it comes to her folks, as she calls them. She tells me of all the good things that happen there. Her folks don’t cry about their aches and pains; they just get on with life. Jill has learned so much from her folks. Jill feels honoured that these wonderful people let her in to their lives. The bonus is the wisdom that is shared. This program offers a fuller life. Medical issues are addressed, such as blood pressure and other health issues that are caught early saving the medical system from hospitalization of the seniors. Monthly diabetes and foot care clinics are held at TAPS, thanks to Jill. Maybe the government should step in now.
When it was time to move to the new facilities it took 80 volunteers and many hours of hard work. Time marches on, many programs are started, and others are in the process.
While on vacation, Jill heard from her twin sister. She had broken her ankle — could she come to help? Then her mother-in-law needed care. She decided at that time that she would retire and take care of her family. One lady can only stretch her self so thin. Jill did promise to come back to volunteer at TAPS when her life settles down.
A retirement luncheon was held in Jill’s honour. There was a full house, and a wonderful luncheon was served. Many speeches spoke of Jill’s dedication, energy, compassion, love of her folks, willingness to always look out for her seniors, sense of humour and never say quit attitude, with as many kudos you can think of.
After the luncheon, everyone was entertained with some very nice old time music: accordion, three guitars, violin, piano and Jill on the spoons. Some of the ladies got up to dance — they can still swing.
I received a couple of letters from people that work with and have worked with Jill:
I think she is the best multitasker I have ever seen. I remember shortly after starting work with TAPS, coming in to work and finding Jill, peeling apples, explaining to the kitchen workers what was for lunch, talking on the phone to one of the members and explaining how the tables were to be set up, all at the same time. I knew then I just had to work with her but sort of figured this was just a fluke and things would calm down. Well, I saw her do this day in and day out. I was truly amazed and through it all she still had time to say hi and give me a hug.
Jill’s hugs were a daily occurrence. She just never seemed to be too busy to welcome you and let you know you were needed.
The other thing I remember most was that we never needed a phone book around when Jill was on duty. She had an amazing memory for names and phone numbers, which really came in handy. She could give you the number before you could pull out the phone book. Jill could also tell you about every member of TAPS. If they were sick, she knew about it and no matter how long the day was she always found the time to call or stop by the members’ house to be sure they were OK and had everything they needed. She would spend 10 hours at TAPS and then stop at the hospital for a bit just to chat with them.
I think she is a very special lady with a great gift of love for people and was in a job she truly loved.
Jill and I worked together with TAPS from Nov. 8, 1994 to March 31, 2003. During those nine years, we had many hurdles to overcome, but with determination and lots of luck and support we did enroll many seniors into the program and they soon became a big extended family. This has remained the main ingredient for this program.
Jill and I have many happy memories; among those was camping for a week at Sanca in August. For many of the seniors, this was the only time they had ever been camping. We all slept in cabins, not too fancy, and meals were in the big cabin, Jill being the main chef and all of us helping with various jobs. I went to town daily (three days) for day campers.
We had special events like crazy hat day, mother’s and father’s day teas, Halloween parties, Christmas dinner with a “real Santa” and New Year’s Eve day party. Dancing at Rotacrest was a big deal for some that really knew how to old-time waltz — and some were not so great, but we all did our best! We went on many shopping trips and competitions with other TAPS programs in Cranbrook, Nelson and Trail.
As always, there were some sad times, too, with deaths among our seniors, sometimes a blessing, others gone too soon.
My retirement lasted for six years, then I went back to work part-time till the end of October 2010. Throughout my employment with TAPS, I have gained much respect for the seniors in our community, and once again I say a big thank you to Jill. I hope her retirement is all she desires and she enjoys a much-needed rest.
Marleyne Krell is a volunteer with the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors.