A bittersweet farewell
That’s the only way to describe a goodbye celebration held at Family Place last Monday.
Louisa Hardy, the centre’s coordinator, spent her last official day there, before taking on a new role with the Ministry of Children and Family Development in Chilliwack, both as an ECE for Chilliwack Community Services and a support worker for the Chilliwack Society for Community Living.
She started going to the Family Place about 14 years ago, when she was a new mom and the group’s meeting place was the old police station on McCaffrey Road, which has since been torn down. She had just graduated from UFV with a social work diploma, and Jean Douglas Webb was just retiring.
Over the years, as the Family Place moved from the station, to the back of the United Church, to its current home at the Friendship House on Morrow Road, the job has become more than just a job. It became a part of her life.
“I’ll always feel like is my home,” she said during an interview in her office shortly before her going away party. As she talked, parents and grandparents pass by her doorway to say hello. They tried to keep the party a secret, but there was no fooling Hardy.
Young children all gathered in front of a projection screen, along with the adults, as they watched a slideshow capturing the many moments they’ve shared at Family Place.
And as much as she was there to help families improve their lives, she said the families did the same for her.
“In this role, I am here as the coordinator, but I have learned so much from the families,” Hardy said. “I think what I’ll really miss is that we have that kind of family atmosphere.
She is looking forward to the next step in her career, though. She has worked with many of her new co-workers already, and is excited to meet a whole new set of families she’ll be connecting with.
Her hope for the Family Place is that it continues to be a place that is “inclusive to all,” regardless of background.