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When we started planning the “Back to School” edition the first name to pop into my head for a feature was Jodie Parker’s. At the time, I was only aware of roughly a third of her involvement with the youth in our valley. She happily accepted, and I knew a lunch date wouldn’t suffice for the conversation in store.
I was right.
If you’ve met Jodie, you are aware of her friendly, upbeat, and easy going personality. Add to this the never ending list, which makes up her career, and the fact that we haven’t chatted in a long while, and you have yourself a hefty lunch hour.
A born and raised Fernie girl, Jodie has a substantial background in child and youth care. From working as a youth care worker in public schools, to an employment counsellor, to her position at a treatment centre for sex offenders, it’s clear that Jodie was born to work with and support youth. She is also family oriented, so when she moved back to Fernie, it’s not surprising that she went into business with her mom, opening the popular Mug Shots coffee shop and bistro. Being Jodie, she “kept her hand in the ‘helping people’ bucket” by working for Community Futures. After nine years at Mug Shots and pregnant with her second child, Jodie and her mom decided to sell their business. At first she had regrets about the decision, but all it took was her daughter Avory saying, “Please don’t go back to work, mommy,” for her to know it was the right choice. Although she felt like she lost a part of her, it not only let her stay at home with her kids, it allowed her to “do what she wanted to do.”
Jodie has a bountiful resume of contracts that allow her to work from home, or take her kids to work. She is currently the Early Childhood Development Coordinator in our area through Success by Six. “Basically we’re a team, addressing the importance of the first six years of a child’s life. In Fernie, we have so many programs and are very fortunate,” Jodie says with excitement in her eyes. She informs parents of the programs available to them, and supports them in accessing these programs.
Along with this essential community role, Jodie provides family support through the Women’s Centre. “I get to work with families that need help in different areas of their life,” she says, and works with The Arts Station through their Art Camps and No School Fridays. “I have a hard time to draw on demand, but kids just do it. They have no fear. I love the masterpieces at the end of the day. Adults sometimes think too much.”
On top of all this, Jodie works for the Canadian Red Cross’s Respect Ed Program, educating youth on bullying prevention and healthy relationships.
“I’ve probably been working in some aspect within the community since I moved back from College 18 years ago,” Jodie recalls, with the roles evolving as she evolves. “Originally taking on these new contracts was just me wanting to learn more, wanting to be more involved,” she adds. But now as she realizes the tools available to the youth and families, tools that weren’t available when she grew up here or started a family, she recognizes their importance and her passion to educate. “These are all things dear to my heart,” she adds.
And Jodie, you are indeed dear to the Fernie community.
1. When did you arrive in Fernie and what brought you here? I arrived forty years ago in my mother’s womb.
2. Where did you first live in Fernie? On Fourth Ave in my grandparent’s home for the first 16 years of my life, then we moved all the way to Third Ave to my great aunt’s home. And now I live next door in my own home. I haven’t left a one-block radius.
3. What was your first impression? Growing up here I loved it. And I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. By the time I graduated I couldn’t wait to get out of here. Three years later I moved back.
5. Do you have a favourite Fernie memory? My childhood. Going to Abory’s for five-cent candies. Playing at Rotary Park before the highway was busy and being able to run across it to get candy. Or playing Kick the Can with neighbourhood kids.
6. What is your favourite time of the year in Fernie and why? Summer. Heat. I wish that summer lasted ten months of the year and not winter. I wish that I was a winter lover, but I love that it’s morning to night with the doors open and playing outside and my kids aren’t in school.
7. Where do you see Fernie in 5 to 10 years? I see it the same as it is now. I love new businesses moving into town, and I also like new people moving here because I think they are all here for the same reasons the locals stay. We’re still a tight-knit community. I worried for a while that it wouldn’t be that way, but it is. Everybody here cares.
8. How do you start your day or what is one of your daily rituals? I like to start my day by having coffee with my husband Clint before he goes to work, and end it with story time and cuddles with my kids and talking about our day.
9. Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about you. Clint and I hiked the West Coast Trail despite my immense fear of bears and cougars, and it wasn’t until years later that he told me that he actually saw fresh cougar tracks on that hike. I have a hard time going up Old Stumpy.
10. Quote to live by: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Dr Seuss. It’s so good because if everyone in life just did a little bit, everything in life would be better!