James Bay Community Project celebrates 40th anniversary

The James Bay Community Project is kicking off a milestone year that has been 40 years in the making.

The James Bay Community Project is kicking off a milestone year that has been 40 years in the making.

At the project’s annual general meeting last night (June 18), they celebrated their continued success providing health, counselling and volunteer services and community support to residents in James Bay, Fairfield, Oak Bay and Victoria over the last 40 years.

They offer outreach and in-home volunteer services to low-income and isolated seniors, and family and child services such as their increasingly popular parent child Mother Goose program.

“We’re all about people — what we can do to help people and people’s place in the community and people’s contributions,” said Kaye Kennish, executive director of the project. “The 40th anniversary gives us an opportunity to recognize the many people through the years who have contributed to their community and have made their community a better place.”

But the program looked quite different when it was originally formed back in the early 1957.

In the early 1970s, a group of James Bay citizens formed the James Bay Community Association in response to the City of Victoria’s proposal for high density land development in the neighbourhood. They were able to pressure city council to zone the area for single family/duplex homes and saved many existing homes as well.

From that, the James Bay Community Project was born.

Over the years, they’ve grown to include more than 300 volunteers providing services to roughly 400 people a day.

Paula Greene, communications and fundraising manager with the project, attributes the organization’s success to its ability to adapt to the needs of its changing demographic.

“It morphed from there to respond to the health and social needs in the community,” said Greene. “The health clinic was formed, we had the first recycle truck in James Bay — but what it’s always done is listen to the needs of the community.”

As part of the celebration, they will be collecting stories, pictures and memories of people’s involvement to create an archive.

“We’re still carrying the torch and it gives a lot of meaning in a world that very often seems more temporary. But there’s been this thread with us in terms of a lot of people giving their time and energy to help other people and that’s a consistent trend,” said Kennish.

The celebrations will culminate in a 70s-themed event in November. For more information, visit jbcp.bc.ca.