She didn’t have a fancy office and typically avoided the spotlight, but few people had a larger presence at Epic Opportunities over the past eight years than Heidi MacArthur.
In her role as Administrative Assistant, Heidi was usually the first person to greet individuals and family members who received support from Epic Opportunities when they visited the organization’s Dublin Avenue head office. She was also the go-to person for staff when they needed help with everything from figuring out how to operate the photocopier to booking a meeting room or organizing their office.
Little wonder that a multitude of well-wishers paid tribute to her after she announced her retirement last month. Her final day on the job was Aug. 31, which coincidentally just happened to be her birthday.
“Of course it was a tough decision to make,” she says of her decision to retire.
“I’m going to miss the people the most – the people I worked with as well as the people we serve. This has been such a great opportunity for me to interact with them. They offered me so much joy and happiness.”
While she had been contemplating retirement for some time, Heidi acknowledged the process was sped up somewhat by her elderly mother’s declining health and a desire to spend more time with her in Thunder Bay.
Although Winnipeg will remain home for Heidi and her husband Craig for the time being, she plans to commute back and forth between here and Northwestern Ontario to help with her mother’s care.
“My family is really the main thing I concern myself with,” says Heidi, who has two children, Josh and Julia. “Everything else can go to the wayside as long as my family is OK. Both Craig’s and my parents emphasized that. Our parents would do anything for anybody who needed help.”
That desire to help others extended to Heidi’s coworkers. She had an innate ability for remembering little things that meant so much to the people she came in contact with.
For people like Coordinator Carey Richards, Heidi was like a second mom.
“Heidi has this amazing gift at making everybody she comes in contact with feel special. For so long I thought I was special and then I realized that Heidi remembered all the things for everybody and that probably everybody feels equally as special as I do,” Carey says.
“I can’t count the number of times she came to my rescue when I needed help with something and she helped in her gentle, calm, reassuring way. Heidi taught me so much about how to treat people.”
Human Resources Coordinator Kristin Oswald says Heidi will continue to have an impact on all the staff and families she came into contact with at Epic Opportunities.
“People are going to remember those things that were unique to her and how she cared for each and every one of us,” Kristin says. “It’s almost like she instilled a piece of herself in each of us.”
Heidi began her ‘epic’ journey after spotting an ad for a job with the organization at a local job bank. After feeling unfulfilled at her previous couple of jobs, she knew right away that she had found the place she was meant to be.
“I think it was mostly because of the people we serve and the type of work we do,” she says. “That was part of the appeal for me. I love to meet different people all the time. At Epic, new people were coming in the door every day. I loved being able to interact with them.”
In addition to spending more time with family, Heidi says retirement will allow her to devote more energy to her art. “That’s my passion,” she says. She’s also hoping to get more involved in urban gardening and spend more time travelling with her husband.