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Donna Hendrickson (1959-2024): alpha personality with a big heart

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Donna Hendrickson (File photograph)

Donna Hendrickson will be remembered as a passionate advocate for her family who was devoted to her career and community.

Ms Hendrickson built her own business as a mobile podiatrist and her work had an impact across the island.

As the owner and operator of Footcare Services, she offered her clients personalised care in the comfort of their homes, not least the elderly who may have had mobility challenges.

In 2003, she joined the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service as part of the first cohort of civilian emergency medical dispatchers and was promoted to the position of emergency dispatch supervisor in 2014.

While she had no children of her own, she adored her family, including nine godchildren and several nephews and nieces.

She was also a keen cook and took part in an annual Christmas competition preparing souse, the traditional Bermuda pork-based recipe.

Despite being the youngest of five siblings, her family described her as “the one in charge”.

The family said of Ms Hendrickson, who served on the council for Allied Health Professions as the representative for the board of podiatrists: “She lived a colourful life.

“Everybody and Bermuda was blessed by her presence as a mobile podiatrist. People are still calling to ask if she is available to do a service for them — it’s hard because we have to tell them she had passed.

“A lot of the seniors didn’t have support to get their feet done, some couldn’t leave their homes, some were bedridden, some were in the hospital … she was very keen in supporting them and liaised with Age Concern.

“She was like a bridge making sure they were accommodated. That’s just the way she was.

“She was a passionate advocate for her nieces, nephews and godchildren, offering guidance and sharing her wisdom on life’s challenges … providing encouragement, comfort and unwavering support while feeling so much pride and joy in celebrating their successes.

“She was also an excellent cook.”

Ms Hendrickson’s mother, Edith [Momma Edie], was “the light of her life”. Ms Hendrickson was her mother’s advocate and she took care of her.

“Even though she was the baby, she was in charge — she had an alpha personality,” the family said.

Donna Hendrickson (Photograph supplied)

As an emergency medical dispatcher, Ms Hendrickson was put in charge of the monitoring and supervision of the emergency medical dispatching system at BFRS.

It was her job to ensure that all 911 calls were processed in accordance with established protocols and standards.

About seven years ago, she took on the additional role of the BFRS’s representative at the Bermuda Red Cross for the Critical Incident Stress Management team.

Janae Foley, an acting dispatch supervisor for BFRS, said: “When she first came, she was identified as a leader.

“She took her role very seriously and would lead her colleagues. She was eager to learn and became very comfortable in her post.

“In her role with the CISM team, she would help her co-workers if we were dealing with calls and felt some sort of stress, mostly following major incidents.

“She also took that role seriously, she not only wanted to help the community but also her co-workers.”

Donna Hendrickson gets a piggyback from firefighter Geoffrey James while sporting new pink uniforms at the launch of a Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service campaign to highlight breast cancer awareness (File photograph)

In 2013, Ms Hendrickson spearheaded a campaign for BFRS firefighters to wear bright pink T-shirts in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Money raised from the purchase of the shirts, which extended beyond the firefighters as others in the community wanted them, was donated to Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre.

Ms Hendrickson was diagnosed with the disease four years earlier. She spent nine months in the United States receiving treatment before getting the all-clear in October 2009.

She said that the support of her family and colleagues helped her to make a full recovery, and had inspired her to raise awareness about the disease.

She told The Royal Gazette at the time: “I think the compassion that was shown to me by everyone at work was just overwhelming — even more overwhelming than the diagnosis itself.

“Having the right attitude is so important when you are undergoing treatment. Your friends and family can play a major role in helping you keep that right attitude and stay strong.”

Ms Hendrickson was known for her positive outlook in all aspects of life.

Ms Foley added: “She liked a good joke, she always had a story about something and was always willing to share.

“She loved to cook and did it throughout the year. She cooked for the crew or cooked with them.

“She will definitely be a miss. Someone said they would miss her telling them to get out of her office — they would come in and joke around, there would be one joke too many and she would say, ‘Get out!’

“She was here for almost 21 years. She made a home here.”

Ms Hendrickson supported numerous charities including Pals, Age Concern and the Bermuda Red Cross.

Her funeral, which has held on Wednesday at The First Church of God, Pembroke, can be viewed online until next Thursday via www.twitch.tv/jroctv2000.

• Donna Hendrickson, an emergency medical dispatcher for the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, business owner and devoted family woman, was born on December 14, 1959, and died on March 21, 2024.

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Published April 05, 2024 at 6:58 am (Updated April 05, 2024 at 7:26 am)

Donna Hendrickson (1959-2024): alpha personality with a big heart

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