Patt Lenover-Adams isn't the only executive director that the Envision Counselling and Support Centre has ever had.
But she's been so closely linked with the 20-year-old organization, for so long, that it's an easy assumption to make.
Lenover-Adams has announced that she will be retiring this year, ending a career with the agency that has spanned more than 19 years. Her retirement takes effect August 15.
She said she knows it's time to retire.
"I've been thinking about it for the last couple of years, and I always said that I would retire when Envision was at a place that I could walk away," Lenover-Adams told Lifestyles.
"I really feel that Envision is strong. We have amazing staff, board and volunteers, and we're in a really healthy position."
Ironically, her initial education background wasn't in social work or administration. She graduated from a nursing program in Toronto in 1978, and promptly moved to Edmonton, where she met her husband, Bruce.
They moved to the Alberta cities of Fort McMurray and Lethbridge, before coming to Estevan in 1994, when Bruce was hired as the assistant director of education for the former Estevan Public School Division.
"I nursed throughout those three (Alberta) communities, but towards the end in Fort McMurray and Lethbridge, I moved to working on the psychiatry unit, and from there worked for mental health," she said.
"I became a group therapist, went back to school in this period of time, and when moved to Estevan, it was just perfect timing, in the sense that about six months after I moved here, there was advertising for what was known as the Violence Intervention Program, looking for an executive director and counsellor."
The first executive director at the Violence Intervention Program (VIP) only lasted a few months. Lenover-Adams applied for the job at VIP (now known as Envision), was hired, and was thrilled to join the organization.
But she never imagined she would remain for 19-plus years.
"I really believe in living today for today," she said. "Every time we've moved, or I've changed careers, it's just come magically to me. An opportunity arose and I was there at the right time, and everything fell into place."
Lenover-Adams also never expected that Envision would grow to become such a thriving entity, that it would touch so many people, or that it would offer so many different programs.
"I had never been on the administration side before I took on this job, so there was a lot of growth within me, and I've always said that Envision gave me, personally and professionally, more than I gave it," she said. "I've learned so much. I think it's been a learning curve for all of us who have come on this journey with me."
So many ideas that have been incorporated into Envision's services came from the public, and she said that's a big reason for Envision's success.
Lenover-Adams said she'll miss the clients and the Envision staff members.
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for anyone for 20 years to work with like-minded people that have the same core values and the same beliefs, and to work with people who are really dedicated to make a difference," said Lenover-Adams.
Her longevity and her efforts with Envision have also created national opportunities. She's been part of federal task forces. She belongs to the Canadian Women's Foundation's board of directors, and for nearly 12 years, she has been their violence prevention grant chair – a duty she'll continue to fulfill for at least a couple more years.
"It's a committee of around 30 people who look at grants and submissions nationally," said Lenover-Adams.
She has also been able to meet people from the U.S. and other nations to bring forward information on issues related to violence against women.
Lenover-Adams doesn't know what she'll do next, but her husband retired a couple years ago, they have purchased a place in Arizona, and they're looking forward to the snowbird lifestyle. They're also hoping to spend more time with their sons – a teacher in Saskatoon and a social worker in Victoria, B.C.
"I know we've made a difference (through Envision), and I hope I've touched the lives of some people," said Lenover-Adams.