Melvin embraces the ‘beginning of new things’

Submitted Photo
Joan Melvin has embraced her ‘commencement’ from her role of community development coordinator at FCSS after 12 years. While she found the role rewarding, she is looking forward to new experiences.

Masha Scheele

After 12 years of working for the Town of Hinton Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), Joan Melvin is moving on.

Instead of calling it retirement, Melvin refers to her next chapter as commencement.

“I like the word better. It seems to be more apropo to the next phase of my life. Retirement has so many implications that I don’t really favour, so I came up with a new word for it and I call it commencement. Because this is the beginning of new things, not the end of old things,” Melvin said.

Melvin worked as the community development coordinator at FCSS, leading community programs such as Hello Hinton to welcome newcomers, Interagency to connect non-profit agencies, Board Development to help non-profit boards thrive, and the Community Dinner Program to build community and connection.

“It was 12 years that were among the best of my life and I mean that in all sincerity,” Melvin said.

The position gave her the opportunity to help make Hinton a better place to live, work, and play.

Getting to know people over the years within and outside of the organization was both wonderful and rewarding, she added.

“[There are] some incredible people doing incredible work in our community and I was very proud to be a part of that whole process,” she said.

Although not born in Hinton, Melvin grew up in Hinton after her father moved her family to Hinton in 1956 for a new start.

They moved over from the coal branch when the coal mines were closing and the pulp mill in Hinton was just opening.

Melvin remembered her dad saying that Hinton was going to have paved streets, and that seemed very civilized.

“My dad actually worked for the Town in the Public Works department for a period of time when we first came here in the late 1950’s. So when I got a job at the Town it was kind of exciting for me to know I was working in the place my dad had once worked,” Melvin said.

As a child, Melvin attended Crescent Valley Elementary School and Harry Collinge High School, before leaving town for a number of years in search of her future.

She briefly moved back in the late 1970s, and always came back to visit her family.

It wasn’t until 2006 that she decided to move back to help take care of her mom.

Just prior to moving back, she had lived in Vancouver for 30 years and worked as a telecommunications technologist. With no similar jobs available in Hinton, she made a career change and took courses through MacEwan University in Hinton for her diploma in social work.

After completing her practicum with the Town of Hinton, she became an employee.

Over the years, she enjoyed making a positive difference in people’s lives and her and her colleagues became like family.

“There are so many opportunities throughout the volunteer system to stay connected in many different ways. I think I’ll miss my work family, but otherwise I’m still in town and I can still make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

She appreciates the opportunity she was given by the Town of Hinton for those years of employment that were so rewarding personally.

“I would really like to make note that I’m very proud to be a sister in the Unifor union as well,” she said.

The retirement notice from the Town of Hinton stated that throughout her time with FCSS, Melvin’s commitment to making Hinton a great place to call home has made her an invaluable part of the FCSS team.

Melvin looks forward to exploring more of the area and getting outdoors whenever she wants.

In her commencement, she decided to make Hinton her permanent home. 

“It has taken a whole lifetime to build up what I have in this community, to go somewhere else, I don’t have enough years left in me to create that anywhere else. That feeling of truly belonging somewhere, where people care about you and it’s very fulfilling and quite wonderful,” she said.

She noted that she just hiked Ogre Canyon near Brule, which was her first time there, despite living in the area for so long. There are many places just like that she hopes to see.

“I have no intention of slowing down, I am probably going to speed up a little bit,” Melvin said.

She is also looking forward to a time when events are allowed again and when the pandemic subsides so she can get back to doing things that a lot of people have been missing.