I’m sure that most of you have heard it said that “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.” This certainly describes Joanne Huston perfectly.
Joanne has always had a certain energy and drive, something that has helped her – and by extension has helped others. She has never been a person who enjoys just sitting around. She has to be active.
While Joanne grew up in Lumby, a village nestled on the northern edge of the Okanagan, her family eventually moved to Vancouver. “While we lived in Lumby, dad worked as an accountant for a lumber company but work necessitated a move and so we headed out to the coast,” she said.
She had an artistic flair and began working with watercolours at the age of 16. “My uncle was a professional artist who also used this same medium. This is something that I continue doing today, simply for my enjoyment. I do it for fun and I do have a few of my paintings hanging on the walls,” she said with a smile.
Although Joanne enjoyed school, she wasn’t an academic. “It’s kind of funny because later on in life my academic side came through,” she chuckled. She had dreamed of becoming a teacher but that never came to fruition. Instead, she went to work for BC Tel right out of high school and remained with the company for the next three years. She then married a teacher and a teaching position prompted a move to Victoria, where her aunt owned Point-no-Point resort. “I did have a strong connection to Victoria because my mom and my grandmother were both born there,” she explained.
She had two children, Bill and Catherine, and when they were 11 and 13 respectively, she went back to work. “I went to work for the Ministry of Health and was there for 17 years,” she said.
While she lived there, Joanne became an active member of the Greater Victoria Library Board, something that she thoroughly enjoyed for six years. She became a charter member of the Royal Oak Rotary Club, worked with the Victoria Music Festival and for 27 years was a member of the Victoria Operatic Society. “My daughter auditioned for them when she was just eight years old and did a lot of their productions. Today, I’m an honourary member of the society,” she said proudly.
Joanne ended up retiring early because her husband became gravely ill. He passed away in 1996 and Joanne moved to Chilliwack since her daughter was living here. Moving from Victoria to Chilliwack was quite the adjustment, a challenge that she embraced. She quickly started a Widows Walk, to support others who were facing the same challenges that she was facing. She became an intake worker at the Salvation Army Food Bank, something that she continues to do today. “I interview the clients that come in for assistance. We need to know their income level, they need to prove residency and those sorts of things,” she said. She’s also been a long-standing member of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, having joined in 1966. She became a member of the Chilliwack Player’s Guild and has been involved in the organization in various capacities since moving to the community. Joanne was a dragon boat team member for years although currently she stands as a supporter to whatever their needs may be. She became a member of the Chilliwack-Fraser Rotary Club but eventually transitioned to the Probus Club. She’s a former president of the Chilliwack Resource Centre and the current president of the Chilliwack Arts Council.
Joanne has also become a committed volunteer with the Chilliwack Hospice society, an organization that supports individuals and their families during the dying and then the grieving process. “One of the things that I’m involved with is the Hospice Boutique which is located near BCAA. We try to be a quality thrift store and the money that we make goes to support the great work of hospice in the community. We’re always looking for volunteers as well as quality furniture, clothing, household items and more. These items can be dropped off at the boutique but we really ask that the items be quality. One of the things that thrift stores are faced with is that if the items are broken or damaged and cannot be sold then they must be taken to the dump and dumping costs become so prohibitive for the organizations,” she explained.
Joanne is active, giving and enjoying life to the fullest. She was blessed to have found love again and a year and a half ago she married Ralph. They both enjoy golfing and travelling and Joanne has also taken up genealogy, something that she suggests is one of the fastest growing pastimes in the world. “It’s very time consuming but I’m really enjoying it. I have over 12,000 names in the computer. It’s fascinating,” she enthused.