She will never say a word about it, but Susan Kidder has helped countless New Scotland seniors

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Susan Kidder retired in December after 13 years as New Scotland’s Senior Outreach Liaison.  She is shown here with yarn she collected in 2014 that 40 or so volunteers knit or crocheted into items sold to fund seniors’ projects.

NEW SCOTLAND — Susan Kidder has retired from her town post as New Scotland’s Senior Outreach Liaison but she won’t soon be forgotten.

“Susan is so tender and such a caring person,” said Debbie Engel, who became the new liaison with the new year. Those are characteristics that, in Kidder, know no limit, she said.

“I mean, how do I wear that halo?” she posits, adding, “And, she’s still a great mentor to me.”

“I could go on and on about what Susan’s taught me,” she said, “and I’m still learning.” Kidder, Engel said, will continue to volunteer.

Kidder is loathe to talk about herself.

“I just wish that there were more articles done on volunteering and senior outreach,” she said, giving much of the credit for her own success as senior outreach liaison to the volunteers who had helped her for the 13 years that she had the job.

“Please don’t blow my horn,” she told The Enterprise. “That is not me.”

When she was told that other people would be doing that for her, a laughing Kidder responded, “Well, they don’t know me.”

Engel began working for the town in December 2018.

For over 30 years, she had worked for the Civil Service Employees’ Association, before retiring about two years ago. Most recently, she had been volunteering at Saint Matthew’s Church in Voorheesville.

 

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Debbie Engel, photographed on Ash Wednesday, is the new senior outreach liaison for the town of New Scotland. She had worked for the Civil Service Employees’ Association for 30 years, before retiring about two years ago.

 

Hired and history

Kidder was hired by the town in January 2006.

“We had several people interview for the position,” said Supervisor Douglas LaGrange, who at the time was a councilman. Some of the candidates had specific abilities like grant writing, he said, but Kidder got the job. “You could really tell that she brought a heart for the job,” he said.

She had compassion, LaGrange said, a character trait not found on any résumé, but clearly evident in her job interview; there was an obvious passion for the work. “That,” he said, “you could tell.”

In doing her job, LaGrange said, “She went above and beyond,” often, on her own time.

Several years ago, Kidder told The Enterprise that she made seniors in need aware of various program, supplying everything from home heat to food, that could help them. For those who weren’t able to use a computer, she would help them fill out needed government forms.

She helped those who needed it with money management and used seniors-services funds raised for that purpose to fill in gaps where needed.

Kidder described then poverty in New Scotland as “almost hidden,” but said it does exist, particularly among the elderly who are living on a fixed income. Housing is a prevalent problem, she said, particularly with utility costs increasing.

“They don’t want to leave their homes,” she said. “How many times can you move at 80 years old?”

Kidder would arrange rides to doctors and other needed appointments that allowed seniors to remain in their homes.

When asked this week why she worked so hard for seniors, Kidder explained: “My dad was a genealogist. I was raised with history, and family history.”

Growing up in New Salem, one of the hamlets in New Scotland, she said, three of her best friends were older women from the neighborhood. She always felt safe in their homes and was was treated “like I was special,” Kidder said. “If I can repay that in any way, I would. I wanted to do that.”

And she has, but she won’t say that.

In 2018, Engel said, volunteers donated 1,032 hours of their time to drive 1,400 senior citizens to appointments and events. During the 2018 holiday season, 35 families were helped, given everything from Christmas gifts for children to paper products for their homes.

Senior outreach began with a single vehicle, “the old fly car that the EMTs used,” LaGrange said. Today, because of Kidder’s tireless effort, the town has two buses and a Nissan sport utility vehicle for senior services.

Originally, the Yellow Bus program, LaGrange said, had been just four trips per year. Under Kidder, he said, that had expanded greatly; the Yellow Bus schedule now list more than a dozen trips each week of the year.

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