by Jo Barnes –
Magazines and newspapers often focus on the famous and newsmakers of the day. Some of the most interesting stories however involve those everyday people that we meet anywhere in our community. Here are some of those stories.
It has been said that if your job is what you love to do, then you never really work a day in your life. Seaside Magazine recently caught up with three local women for whom this is the case. While all these women work in very different occupations, they all share the same love of what they do.
In a warm and welcoming coffee shop in the heart of Saanichton we meet a young woman who begins her daily routine when most of us would still be fast asleep. She is usually there by 5 a.m. or so to prepare things for opening at 7 a.m.
“I come in early to make muffins and other baked goods,” shares Sandy Kirby, an employee at Fresh Cup Roastery Café.
Sandy grew up in the Saanichton area and knows it well. The café is a bustling business frequented by locals and visitors. During the brief time of interview, one fellow came in to get a coffee and sandwich to go, two contractors swapped stories over a coffee, and a husband and wife nearby sipped hot drinks.
Sandy shares how some customers visit every day.
“I like the regular customers. One lady, her name is Anne; she comes in all the time,” says Sandy. “There’s a running group that comes in every Monday morning. They come in at about 20 minutes after six for coffee and snacks.”
The heart of Sandy’s job is dealing with people. And it’s here she finds enjoyment.
“I know a lot of people,” says Sandy. “I like this job. It gives me a real social part to my day.”
She returns back to the service counter. The smile on her face as she passes along a cup of coffee to a customer says it all.
It’s a relatively quiet Tuesday morning at Sidney Municipal Hall, so we have an ideal opportunity to chat with one key member of staff.
“We were gone for almost two weeks at Christmas holidays, so we’re getting back into the saddle,” shares Paula Kully, Executive Assistant to the Mayor of Sidney.
Along with three other staff, Paula assists with the daily municipal minutiae. With a newly-elected mayor, there’s plenty to be done. The job though is more than a set of tasks for this woman and provides deeper meaning.
“I enjoy it because you’re giving something back to your community. You really feel like what you’re doing is making a difference to people,” she says. “It is fun to be a part of the inner sanctum decision making and to feel a part.”
Paula’s contribution to local governments goes way back, some 20 years, beginning in the small town of Horsefly where she and others started a development centre and initiated the town’s first website and computer centre. As we chat, it becomes clear she has a passion for community involvement. She served as constituency assistant for MLA Terry Lake and did marketing and communications for Kamloops 2011 Western Canada Summer Games.
Job locations, populations and coworkers have changed over the years, but one thing remains constant. Paula is still drawn by the desire to give back and make a difference.
Sometimes we don’t find a job; the job finds us. Such is the case with a local woman who has discovered ways to marry her love of theatre with her passion for working with seniors.
“The universe has an incredible way of putting two things together so that it can work to the benefit of everybody involved. I have loved theatre since I was a little girl,” shares Susan Anderson, Companion at Saanich Peninsula Hospital and throughout Sidney.
The suspension of disbelief, which is central to theatre, is a useful application when meeting those who are living with dementia.
“They are in a world that is not a world that we relate to but it’s a world real to them.”
Susan uses role play and puppetry and also reads books to seniors.
“One lady I read 500 stories to her for five years, and I used a stable of voices. It took her to a different dimension. She was able to go into a place that was untouched by dementia,” she says.
It can be challenging work. Individuals can be confused, depressed and distraught. Susan however relishes the opportunity to be there for each person often sharing with seniors,
“I hear you, and you are not alone, and we’re going to journey this thing together.”
For Susan, what began as a job has become so much more, a daily direction that gives her purpose and value, a vocation if you will.
“I think it’s what I’ve always been meant to do,” she says.