Dianne Evans has been an important part of Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS) for 23 years and she was honoured for her contribution at a retirement party recently.
"She's definitely been my right-hand person for many years and helped me take my ideas and the community ideas and turn them into reality. I mean, that really was her magic, turning dreams into reality," said Vicki Dobbyn, SCCSS executive director.
Evans got involved with SCCSS in 1987 through the volunteer centre. She had just left her post as a reporter at Coast News where she often visited the volunteer centre for story ideas.
She believed in their mission and started volunteering on their advisory committee.
Soon a coordinator's position came up and she applied.
"I knew a lot about the community, so it seemed like that would be a good fit," Evans said. SCCSS agreed, and she was given the job in 1987.
Evans held the position for three years and then free-lanced some community work while on the board of SCCSS.
"I worked to establish the Esprit Daycare, the teen parent education society, and then I worked on the second phase of planning for a women's centre, which eventually turned into the community resource society after a lot of changes," she said.
In 1994 she became the administrative assistant for SCCSS, and Dobbyn said they were thrilled to have her in the role. Later she would take on the director of operations position and thrive in that as well.
"She was always that really solid core of knowledge about community services and about the community," Dobbyn said.
"Her responsibilities really evolved and grew over the years as we got bigger and more diverse. She was there every step of the way to help us."
Ways Evans helped included program development and securing funding for new programs, services and spaces through successful grant applications.
"She was very instrumental in the grant applications for all the buildings that we own, starting with this one here on Inlet Avenue. It was the first one we purchased," Dobbyn said.
Although she is well known for her grant writing ability, Evans said she is most proud of the work she did to gain accreditation for the society.
"Starting in 2005, then in 2008 and 2011, they called me the CARF commando. CARF is a crediting body that accredits our organization," Evans said.
"That was huge because we were successful three times in getting that three-year accreditation. I led the process so I'm proud of that."
Evans also helped create human resources policies and procedures for SCCSS and she handled communication for the society, creating various newsletters, posters and brochures throughout the years.
"She came with an eye for graphic design and layout and proofreading and all those things that made, I think, our publications really good," Dobbyn said.
She noted SCCSS will miss Evans, who plans to spend time gardening at her home in Roberts Creek now that she is retired at 67 years of age, but they will likely see her around.
Evans is currently the volunteer coordinator for the community response network, which ensures there are protocols for supporting vulnerable adults in rural areas, and she has said she will volunteer at the food bank now that she has the time.
She noted the people at SCCSS make it hard to stay away.
"It's the best place I've ever worked in my entire life. The staff, everybody, I can't believe how committed and wonderful the people are who work for community services and the board of directors," Evans said.
"I'll miss the people."