Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

Kootenay Family Place celebrates 50 years

KFP offers child care, developmental screenings/supports, pediatric physiotherapy and speech therapy

If you live in Castlegar, there is a pretty good chance that you or someone in your family has benefited from a program at Kootenay Family Place (KFP).

The non-profit organization has been focused on meeting the needs of Kootenay children for 50 years now. It has grown from a simple after-school program in 1972 to an organization that offers 14 different programs across the Kootenay Boundary region. KFP employs 50 people and infuses $3 million worth of payroll into the local economy each year.

The services offered by KFP go well beyond child care. Many are focused on early interventions in infants to preschool aged children such as developmental screenings and supports, pediatric physiotherapy and speech therapy.

The organization also works on supporting families as a whole through parental education, drop-in programs, prenatal supports, Aboriginal supports and English second language supports.

The Hobbit Hill Children’s Centre still offers child care programs and KFP also operates the Selkirk College Children’s Centre and the newly-opened Castlegar and District Kids’ Club preschool and after-school care facility at the Castlegar and District Community Complex.

Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

KFP co-executive director Sally Bojechko credits the organization’s dedicated board of directors for helping the organization to succeed.

Bojechko says the organization is great to work for and experiences a longevity in its staff not often seen in the sector. As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, calculations were made to determine that the current staff represents 300 years worth of work at KFP.

Bojechko herself accounts for 35 of those years. She has worked her way up through the organization one step at a time, starting as an early childhood educator at Hobbit Hill until gradually reaching her current position.

“KFP has been so amazing in terms of allowing staff to continue to progress and take on more responsibility. There are so many opportunities for growth if you want it,’ says Bojechko.

“It really is my second family.”

The other co-executive director, Lynenne Lewis, has been with the organization for 30 years.

She says seeing the impacts KFP programs have on families is very inspiring and keeps her motivated.

“I love the people we work with,” said Lewis. “I like that we constantly change and adapt to meet the needs of the community.”

As the organization celebrates their golden anniversary they are posting old photos to their Facebook page, so if you are a former client or staff member, you should scroll through and see if you see yourself in the retro photos.

Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

Lewis says the non-profit society is always looking for new board members, so if you interested in volunteering call 250-365-5616 for more information.

Some of KFP’s programs are dependent on grants and donations, if you are interested in donating or helping with fundraising, check out their website at kootenayfamilyplace.org.

My KFP experience: from client to employee

I moved to Canada 11 years ago from Japan. I was a new immigrant and a new mom. I stayed home with two young children. I was away from home, family, friends, and society. I felt isolated and needed to find a way to connect people and society.

I researched about children’s programs in the area and found Conversation Club, ESL Family Time for Immigrants and other family programs at Kootenay Family Place. Those programs changed my life for the better.

I still remember that the KFP staff was kind and warm. They welcomed us when we first joined the program. They asked me: “How old are your kids? Where are you from?” and in the end, “We are glad, you came today.” Those conversations seem quite normal, but for me, as a new and isolated immigrant, were extremely important. I felt connected and relieved.

The family programs at Neighbourhood House had many benefits. I met other parents, learned English, received support for me and my children, enriched my children’s lives, and enabled me to meet immigrants from all over the world who are also learning to adjust to life in Canada. We all had a similar situation, so we connected well and shared feelings and learned how to build our own life in Canada. KFP provided us with lots of information, parenting workshops and constant support. I was able to make many valuable friendships through the KFP programs.

Often new immigrants or new parents feel isolated from society. If it were not for the support I received from KFP, it’s very likely that I would not have survived in Canada. The social, connection and family support programs in this country are the main reason why I am a happy and prospering new immigrant, and why my children are well adjusted and thriving.

These programs have made a tremendous difference and are what makes Canada the great country that it is. I cannot express my appreciation enough.

My children are in school and now, I’m working at KFP as a Family Connections coordinator. I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to give back to the community with this amazing organization!

Kyoko Smith

KFP Family Connections coordinator

Kyoko Smith (center) is now a Family Connections coordinator Kootenay Family Place. Photo: Submitted

Kyoko Smith (center) is now a Family Connections coordinator Kootenay Family Place. Photo: Submitted

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Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photos: Submitted

Kootenay Family Place is celebrating 50 years. Photo: Submitted