Woman of the Week, Miss Margaret Kennedy, Evening Telegram, 1946, April 13, p.8
A native of Harbour Grace, Miss Margaret Kennedy had a varied career before accepting the position of Secretary of the Citizens’ Rehabilitation Committee.
She taught school for seven years, the last three of which she was Principal at the land settlement schools in Markland. Many parents will remember her as Games Mistress of the Sunshine Camp in the summer of ‘41.
Enlisting in the R.C.A. F. (W. D.) in June 1942 as Operational Clerk, Miss Kennedy received training in Ottawa, Florida, Dartmouth and Toronto, and was later commissioned as Operations Officer.
“Like that of many others,” she said, “my aim was to go overseas and take part in ground interception of enemy aircraft. However, I was posted to the Operations Room of the East Coast of Canada and Newfoundland. However, as enemy action grew less, work decreased and I applied for a course as Personnel Counsellor. I took this course in Ottawa, and then spent eleven months at St. John’s and Torbay.”
During those eleven months, Miss Kennedy interviewed approximately 2,000 persons, giving Rehabilitation lecturers, aptitude tests and vocational advice. This meant travelling in mid-winter to outlying districts, such as St. Brides, Clarenville and Cape Spear.
Miss Kennedy is Secretary for the R.C.A. F. Benevolent Fund and is also Secretary for the Welcoming and Welfare Committee for Overseas Wives. Duties, for the latter she reports, have fallen off considerably since the formation of the Rose and Thistle Club.
“After much preparatory work,” continued Miss Kennedy, “this office opened in December ‘45 and I was appointed Executive Secretary of the Citizens’ Rehabilitation Committee. This committee was organized to co-operate with the government in helping veterans with their social problems. They are private citizens who have volunteered to lend personal aid to all veterans who have problems which do not come under the Government Rehabilitation Scheme.
“The problems of the veterans are many and varied, but our record is the solution of 70% of them. We have given 977 interviews to date. There are the unemployed problems, advice for which is given by a Sub-committee of twelve men, two of whom are on duty every week. This body gives advice as to career or apprenticeship but cannot attempt to take the place of the Labor Exchange. Then we have a housing sub-committee. This committee hoped to utilize some of the administrative holdings, but it was found impractical owing to land disputes. Consequently, a public drive was organized, and through that we have obtained a certain number of rooms. The citizens responded very well to the appeal, but a great deal more accommodation is still urgently needed.”
“Our Legal Sub-committee helps veterans in such legal matters as may be brought before it, thereby effecting a saving for the veteran. Distressed cases are investigated thoroughly, and referred to the people of the organization that can best assist them.”
“Then there are a large number of miscellaneous letters to answer. This office is somewhat in the nature of an Information Center. One man came here to see if we could trace a friend for him. We did.”
“Recently, we formed outport committees, and contact is maintained between them and us.”
“I should like to stress the fact that it is due to the enthusiasm and co-operation of the Citizens’ Committee that we have done such splendid work, and it has been through the efforts of the citizens themselves that we have been instrumental in helping a great many of our service men and women.”
“I am very fortunate in having as assistant secretary and co-worker Miss Gladys Harvey, also of the Air Force. Without her cheerful personality and ready assistance I should feel quite at a loss.”