Pat Colbourne is the executive director of the New Focus Society in Quesnel which operates the Child Care Resource and Referral centre. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Pat Colbourne is the executive director of the New Focus Society in Quesnel which operates the Child Care Resource and Referral centre. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

HOMETOWN HERO: CCRR volunteer describes emotions of her work

Pat Colbourne helps operate the Child Care Resource and Referral centre

Watching the war in Ukraine unfold from afar, Pat Colbourne said she needs a box of tissues.

Since June 2007, Colbourne has served as the executive director of the New Focus Society, which operates Quesnel’s Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) centre.

In addition to a playroom with books and toys, there is also a large meeting space where once a week, Colbourne hosts newcomers to improve their English speaking skills and share their cultural identity.

One of their clients was Nataliya Williams whose daughter, granddaughter and older sister recently fled from Russian assault to Poland.

“It’s just heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking,” Colbourne said.

READ MORE: Ukrainian-Canadian heart cries in Quesnel

The non-profit organization, according to its Facebook page, holds government contracts to support quality childcare and immigrant settlement in the Quesnel area.

“You have to have a lot of passion to be in non-profit but it’s also a passion helping the daycare providers be the best that they can be and helping immigrants settle in the community—there’s a lot of work in that,” Colbourne said.

Colbourne has resided in Quesnel since 1994 after immigrating from Alaska herself.

She called the city the perfect place to raise a family and said she couldn’t be more proud of her three children, who work as a crane operator, oil sand worker, and pharmacist today.

“The times are different now…I don’t think I would want to raise kids right now, but I sure want to support people who are doing it because it’s not easy,” Colbourne said.

“The more assistance we have like the CCRR program and the Child Development Centre and the other agencies that work with children families can really use those resources.”

When Colbourne isn’t busy at the CCRR centre, where she wears a couple of hats, she enjoys spending her winter scrapbooking.

In the warmer months, she likes camping with her small trailer and being out in her vegetable and flower garden, which she describes as her happy place.

Colbourne credits an older client from India who she described as one of the most open-minded progressive people she has ever met as the person who got her into gardening.

“Both young children and immigrants are our future here in Canada,” she said.

Despite the sometimes tragic and heartbreaking nature of working with refugees and immigrants, as seen in Ukraine, one late Friday afternoon Colbourne couldn’t help but smile as sunlight shone into her office.

Tucked near her office space on Anderson Drive is a library chock-full of toys and a community playroom.

“We love it when they come and play here,” Colbourne remarked. “The sound of happy play coming out of our playroom is just amazing.”

Do you know of a Hometown Hero who lives in Quesnel and area worthy of recognition? Email the contact information of the person and their story to editor@quesnelobserver.com, and they could be featured in a future edition.

HOMETOWN HERO: Quesnel autism awareness fundraiser entering 10th year

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: rebecca.dyok@quesnelobserver.com



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CommunityQuesnel