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Smiles thanks enough for community-minded woman

<p>Margie Beck adjusts the figures in a nativity set she made for her granddaughter Marleigh. She wanted it to be a very personal gift so the shingles that make the manger roof come from an old family barn and the quilt on which it sits was stitched by Beck's sister. (Rosalie MacEachern photo)</p>
<p>Margie Beck adjusts the figures in a nativity set she made for her granddaughter Marleigh. She wanted it to be a very personal gift so the shingles that make the manger roof come from an old family barn and the quilt on which it sits was stitched by Beck's sister. (Rosalie MacEachern photo)</p>

Margie Beck is a woman who knows no half measures.

When she decides to do a craft program at the Pictou County Y, she continues it for decades.

When Beck retired after 38 years of teaching – many of those years in the field of special education – her first goal was to make up for some of the shortcomings she encountered as an educator.

Beck said she always had the feeling that if some of the needs the schools could not meet could be fulfilled elsewhere then life would be easier for families with special needs.

“One thing I noticed was that special needs kids couldn’t take their families to their games or special events. That is so much a part of family life for the rest of us and it was missing for them and their families.”

Beck developed a respite services program called United in Friendship for Highland Community Residential Services.

“The idea was to develop some social supports and I didn’t do it by myself, but we organized some outings and created some events and then put together a summer recreation program.”

Even as she worked to co-ordinate special needs programming after the creation of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, Beck kept in touch with the students. It gave her an advantage when she went to HCRS.

“I remembered the faces and I didn’t have to read all the files. I knew who needed the services because I’d worked with them in the school system and I knew what they needed.”

She credited both the Y and Nova Scotia Community College with generously providing facilities and hard-working community organizations with helping to meet costs.

From the start it was important to Beck that families be involved in the planning and siblings, grandparents and any other extended family be welcome.

“We had one family that organized a beach party, which meant creating an area that was accessible for wheelchairs. Most of these kids had never been to a corn boil or campfire before and they even had fireworks.”

The smiles on the faces of children and their relaxed parents are more than enough thanks for Beck.

“Even a child with limited cognitive ability seems to be able to understand and enjoy a concept like Fun Friday.”

Beck, who is a regular at the Y’s early morning swims, was recently awarded the YW-YMCA’s peace medal for her work with children, including the craft program she runs.

“With no art in the schools anymore, all I’m doing is providing a quiet place for a child to try to be creative and develop some pride in making something. My sister Jane, who helps with the program, is better at crafts and far better organized than I am. I’m the oldest of five sisters and I’m the least talented of them. It did not take a whole lot of talent to start a crafts program.”

Beck and her sisters learned early in life that working together is the fastest way to accomplish any goal. They grew up on a farm that provided all their food and much of their clothing was made at home.

“We always had a rag bag or junk box. Things that go into the garbage today went into the junk box. We could use our imaginations to try making whatever we wanted from the box. If you made a mess, it didn’t matter because messes could be cleaned up. Looking back, that freedom was a real gift to kids.”

They lost their mother when the youngest sisters were babies and their father before the babies had time to grow up.

“We always knew we were loved, always knew our parents did the best they could for us. I suppose we’ve never wanted to let them down and that’s not a bad way to go through life. I don’t know if it is the reason why but we’re all close and my sisters’ kids are my kids, too.”

It is that sense of family that motivated her, long before open concept was even a concept, to build a house with a big farm-style kitchen.

Right now she and her husband Roy are helping their grandson renovate his first home. They also have a young granddaughter who brings her share of Christmas magic to the Becks.

“She has her own tree and it is purple. She also likes to bake and do crafts and keep busy so we get along just fine.”

 

Rosalie MacEachern is a Stellarton resident and freelance writer who seeks out people who work behind the scenes on hobbies or jobs that they love the most. If you have someone you think she should profile in an upcoming article, she can be reached at r.maceachern@ns.sympatico.ca

 

        

             

                        

When she decides to do a craft program at the Pictou County Y, she continues it for decades.

When Beck retired after 38 years of teaching – many of those years in the field of special education – her first goal was to make up for some of the shortcomings she encountered as an educator.

Beck said she always had the feeling that if some of the needs the schools could not meet could be fulfilled elsewhere then life would be easier for families with special needs.

“One thing I noticed was that special needs kids couldn’t take their families to their games or special events. That is so much a part of family life for the rest of us and it was missing for them and their families.”

Beck developed a respite services program called United in Friendship for Highland Community Residential Services.

“The idea was to develop some social supports and I didn’t do it by myself, but we organized some outings and created some events and then put together a summer recreation program.”

Even as she worked to co-ordinate special needs programming after the creation of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, Beck kept in touch with the students. It gave her an advantage when she went to HCRS.

“I remembered the faces and I didn’t have to read all the files. I knew who needed the services because I’d worked with them in the school system and I knew what they needed.”

She credited both the Y and Nova Scotia Community College with generously providing facilities and hard-working community organizations with helping to meet costs.

From the start it was important to Beck that families be involved in the planning and siblings, grandparents and any other extended family be welcome.

“We had one family that organized a beach party, which meant creating an area that was accessible for wheelchairs. Most of these kids had never been to a corn boil or campfire before and they even had fireworks.”

The smiles on the faces of children and their relaxed parents are more than enough thanks for Beck.

“Even a child with limited cognitive ability seems to be able to understand and enjoy a concept like Fun Friday.”

Beck, who is a regular at the Y’s early morning swims, was recently awarded the YW-YMCA’s peace medal for her work with children, including the craft program she runs.

“With no art in the schools anymore, all I’m doing is providing a quiet place for a child to try to be creative and develop some pride in making something. My sister Jane, who helps with the program, is better at crafts and far better organized than I am. I’m the oldest of five sisters and I’m the least talented of them. It did not take a whole lot of talent to start a crafts program.”

Beck and her sisters learned early in life that working together is the fastest way to accomplish any goal. They grew up on a farm that provided all their food and much of their clothing was made at home.

“We always had a rag bag or junk box. Things that go into the garbage today went into the junk box. We could use our imaginations to try making whatever we wanted from the box. If you made a mess, it didn’t matter because messes could be cleaned up. Looking back, that freedom was a real gift to kids.”

They lost their mother when the youngest sisters were babies and their father before the babies had time to grow up.

“We always knew we were loved, always knew our parents did the best they could for us. I suppose we’ve never wanted to let them down and that’s not a bad way to go through life. I don’t know if it is the reason why but we’re all close and my sisters’ kids are my kids, too.”

It is that sense of family that motivated her, long before open concept was even a concept, to build a house with a big farm-style kitchen.

Right now she and her husband Roy are helping their grandson renovate his first home. They also have a young granddaughter who brings her share of Christmas magic to the Becks.

“She has her own tree and it is purple. She also likes to bake and do crafts and keep busy so we get along just fine.”

 

Rosalie MacEachern is a Stellarton resident and freelance writer who seeks out people who work behind the scenes on hobbies or jobs that they love the most. If you have someone you think she should profile in an upcoming article, she can be reached at r.maceachern@ns.sympatico.ca

 

        

             

                        

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