June 19th, 2024

Long-time OHS employee and volunteer honoured

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on November 9, 2022.

Submitted photo Donna Jorgensen with then Labour and Immigration Minister Kaycee Madu receiving the Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Alberta last month in Edmonton.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

A local resident who has dedicated 45 years to public service and performed countless hours of volunteer work has recently received Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Alberta.

Donna Jorgensen, who has worked as an administrative assistance to an Occupational Health and Safety officer for the Government of Alberta for the last 45 years, was nominated to receive the medal by one of her peers and endorsed by 21 more.

Jorgensen said she was beyond shocked to find out she was nominated and was even more shocked when she found out she won.

“I was stunned to even be nominated, I just consider myself as doing what I do, but it was such an honour to be nominated and I never thought I would ever win it. I thought ‘nothing like that ever happens to me’, so when I won, I was so excited, I jumped up squealing ‘I did it! I did it! I got it!’ and I cried,” said Jorgensen.

The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal was created to mark the 70th anniversary of Her late Majesty’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. To celebrate this historic event, the Medal program recognizes outstanding service from Albertans who, like the Queen, dedicated themselves to family, community and country.

According to the Alberta government website, the medal will be awarded to 7,000 Albertans throughout 2022 in recognition of significant contributions to the province. The Platinum Jubilee Medal program is continuing as planned despite the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and will conclude on February 5, 2023.

Jorgensen, who received the medal from then-Minister of Labour and Immigration Kaycee Madu during a ceremony in Edmonton on Oct. 3, said they were told at that point 82 Albertans have received the medal to date. But more have received it since.

Jorgensen received a letter informing her about the award that read in part “The Ministry of Labour and Immigration is recognizing you for your life of service to the people of Alberta. You have dedicated untold hours of volunteer service through your church, a decade of chairing the Lethbridge Steps for Life Committee raising funds to support families impacted by workplace tragedies, 30 years of community road race volunteering and 45 years of public service.”

She said when chairing Steps for Life she and her team was able to raise approximately $450,000 to support families impacted by workplace tragedies.

Jorgensen added that after 45 years at her job she still loves it.

“One of the things that I love is that there’s something different every day, because with Occupational Health and Safety there’s always a different thing happening. I like the variety, because I could get bored very easily, but with this job I couldn’t,” said Jorgensen.

She said when she was going to college the government of Alberta asked the Lethbridge College to send their highest marking student in the secretarial program, and that was her.

“I only went for two interviews when I was 20 years old and one was with Occupational Health and Safety, and when I went for the interview, something said to me this is the job for you and I took it and here I am,” said Jorgensen.

The letter sent by her peers to nominate her read in part “In February 1977, on request of government her college administrators invited her to apply to work at the then-new OHS. Since and without pause, Donna has supported countless officers, eight managers and many executive leaders. She has been central in developing, training and supporting OHS in the administrative framework it relies on to provide essential frontline services to Albertans.”

“I may be retired in the next couple years, but I still come to work and I’m the first one here in the morning, I’m usually the last one to leave at night. I just carry on and do what I do, I kind of call myself the mom that holds it together,” said Jorgensen.

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