It’s a long list of activities that led to Penticton’s Lynn Kelsey being honoured earlier this month with a Volunteer of the Year Award for the Interior Region of the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Kelsey has volunteered for CDA for close to 15 years, providing diabetes education to public, corporate, and educational institutions.
“I will go speak to anyone who wants to listen to me,” said Kelsey.
One of the programs Kelsey teaches is Diabetes for Healthcare Professionals, and earlier this year, she worked with Sprott Shaw College to make the program part of the core curriculum for their health care students.
“I did a train-the- trainer webinar for their health care instructors, so they now deliver that program in all of their campuses,” she said.
And in May, Kelsey helped organize the annual residential fundraising campaign for the CDA.
“I was the area leader for the South Okanagan, which meant I went from Summerland to Grand Forks,” said Kelsey, explaining how she worked with about 300 volunteers to canvass the large area.
“My love of doing it is that if I can make a difference in one life, it is worth it,” said Kelsey, who saw early on in her volunteer career how a small change can spread.
She was teaching in the Prince George area at the time, delivering a one-hour basic diabetes education course, covering basic questions like what is diabetes, and how to live with it.
One student, decided he needed to be tested after realizing how many diabetes risk factors he showed: over 40, First Nations descent, overweight and both his brothers had diabetes.
He found out he had Type 2 Diabetes, but because of that one-hour workshop, he told her, he wasn’t as scared as he might have been.
“He made a huge change and got more exercise, lost weight, got his blood sugar down to a healthy level,” said Kelsey.
His two brothers, already showing signs of complications, decided to improve their lifestyles as well.
“One of them was elected chief, and he brought changes to the whole band,” said Kelsey. “One one-hour information session, made an impact in a community.
“I had been teaching for them for about seven years when I was diagnosed myself,” said Kelsey.
“Then it had more of a personal feel to it. I continued to teach in the communities.”
Diabetes advocacy is far from Kelsey’s only interest. She has volunteered with political campaigns, helped with the Christmas shoebox campaign, volunteers through her church, works with patients with chronic conditions, helps out at South Okanagan Women in Need (where she also works full-time as a support worker) and even found time to run for city council herself.
“Because I work for SOWINS, I also do a lot of work for them, as the opportunities come up,” she said. “I am very passionate about women’s issues.”
Passion is a key factor driving Kelsey to volunteer in so many ways.
Being a well-rounded volunteer, she said, comes from trying to be a well-rounded person and not being so focused on any one thing she doesn’t see needs in other places.
“If you want something done, ask a busy person,” joked Kelsey. “When I am passionate about something, it is not a chore to give that time.”
Kelsey doesn’t expect retirement to slow down her volunteer efforts.
“It will just give me more time to give back,” she said. “We never know what one thing we have done for somebody that has changed a life.”