Eighteen years ago, Lori Riddle was introduced to people with disabilities for the first time. She wasn’t sure what to expect when she first began her job as Receptionist for the Association, but it didn’t take her long to feel comfortable in the work. Lori found it easy to meet and get to know the clients because many of them were working at the main office location at that time.
Lori soon took over as Administrative Assistant and learned payroll “on the fly.” In 1989, when Payroll became her main responsibility, Lori recalls that “life became interesting.” She continued to learn as she went along and is now the Executive Assistant to Director Barry Bucknell.
There were seventy employees working for the Association when Lori first started, but now the Association has grown to a total of one hundred and eighty. Staff turnover has become an issue, as many individuals start with the Association, then move on to other positions in Grande Prairie’s booming job market.
When the bottle depot was still operating at the main location, Lori enjoyed regular interaction with clients during the workday. She mainly came to know the clients through her involvement with the Special Olympics.
When I first joined the Special Olympics I wanted to provide our athletes every opportunity to be able to compete in the sports of their choice.
Lori’s first involvement was as a coach to the athletes. She was eventually invited to attend a management committee meeting and “walked out of it as Secretary/Treasurer”, a position she held until 1997. Lori was involved with the Special Olympics for approximately ten years. She says the most popular events are floor hockey and bowling. The volunteer base is not strong so it can be a challenge finding the support required to coach the athletes.
Lori remembers weekend events as a lot of fun for both the coaches and the athletes. The athletes participated in the main sporting events during the day and then attended a dinner and dance for the finale. Over time, the clients formed friendships with other Special Olympians and look forward to meeting them every year.
Lori received provincial recognition for her work with the Special Olympics in 2001. She was honoured with the “Investor’s Group Community Sport Administrator of the Year” award for her contributions to fund raising, finances and athlete registration.
Lori loves her job but says it is the people more than anything else that makes it so satisfying for her. She has developed a long-term relationship with most of the staff and says that makes for a great atmosphere in the workplace. Lori still refers to the organization as the Association for the Mentally Handicapped despite the recent name change to Signature Support Services. In her opinion, the name change mostly impacts the Residential and Day programs and “in her world” the old name is what she currently uses and always has.