Vital People: Oak Bay’s Kiwanis Tea Room volunteers are making a difference

Vital People: Oak Bay's Kiwanis Tea Room volunteers are making a difference
WatchOak Bay's Kiwanis Tea Room has been making a difference for 75 years, thanks to dedicated volunteers. Tess van Straaten reports.

The Kiwanis Tea Room at Willows Beach in Oak Bay has been serving up ocean-side treats for 75 years.

“It just began as a little up and down the beach selling ice cream,” says Kiwanis Tea Room volunteer Wanda Walker. “I’m not even sure they had hot dogs then!”

Wanda’s been volunteering at the tea room for 27 years and loves to help out.

“I think I get more than I give because volunteering,” the senior says. “It makes you feel so good to know you can give back to your community.”

Wanda also has the distinction of being one of the first women to join the Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay.

“Actually there were three of us, the first women in the club,” Wanda explains. “It took a little convincing! Some of the men thought we were going to change everything.”

The service club is dedicated to improving the lives of children and the elderly, both locally and around the world.

“It’s a very active club and we do great work,” says Leslie Johnston, who’s been a club member for the past decade. “We have given back to Oak Bay and also to Greater Victoria over $40,000 just in the past year.”

Leslie says joined Kiwanis because she wanted to make a difference.

“The community is what we’re part of and you work for the community, the community works for you,” she says. “It was just important to help out around the community.”

And all that help is made possible by the Kiwanis tea room—the club’s main fundraiser—and its many volunteers.

“They’re amazing!” says Kiwanis student worker Simon Gillespie. “They’re hard workers. They’ve been at this thing for a long time.”

“I think it’s absolutely fabulous,” adds student worker Kate LeRoy. “I’ve seen first-hand how hard some of our volunteers work and I think they do a lot for the community.”

Whether it’s cooking hot dogs or serving the public, it’s clear this little tea room has a big impact.

“I remember it from when I was little and I’ve had so many people come up to me and tell me, ‘oh I remember this from when I was a little kid’, so I think it really just helps bring the community together,” Kate says.

“It’s just a fabulous place and we’re very fortunate to have it!” Wanda adds.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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