It's not often you can pinpoint where the heart of a community is, but in Sunny Tsawwassen you'd have to say the Kin Village Community Centre comes pretty close. And if you've visited the community centre then you know director of recreation John Lusted has his finger on the pulse.
A recreational therapist by training with 18 years experience working with seniors at Kin Village, John began working in the adjacent long-term residential care unit in 1999 before taking over his current role in the community centre in 2007.
"We're able to offer programs for able-bodied people in the community but we also have programs where we can reach out to people in our apartments that need some extra help," he says.
What sets Kin Village apart from other community centres is that it's a non-profit society that receives some funding from the City of Delta but isn't a part of the municipality. It is a community centre in the truest sense of the term because not only does it welcome nearly every organization and community group through its doors, there are housing options for seniors looking for assisted living and long-term residential care.
In a community like Tsawwassen with an aging demographic, it attracts a healthy amount of visitors each and every day.
While John says the facility has its own programs there are groups that target seniors who use the premises such as the Alzheimer's Society, Parkinson's Support Group, Jazzercise Group and the Delta Photo Club. In fact, the very successful Elder College of Delta began at Kin Village.
At this time of year it's impossible not to see a Christmas party or holiday themed event going on nearly every day at the community centre.
"We had a party here recently for our assisted living people and we also had a party for our Alzheimer's unit at the same time," recalls John.
One of the newest acquisitions to Kin Village is chef Adrian Dias, who opened his "Buenos Dias" cafe to serve residents and visitors. A chef since 1990, Dias comes from the Fairmont hotel chain in downtown Vancouver and has worked previously in Hong Kong.
John says that while Dias can make food fancy enough for a five star restaurant, he's also conscious of the fact many seniors are on fixed incomes.
"Some people come in and say, 'Look, we can only do a $12 menu.' So he'll create a really versatile $12 menu. He does that for our monthly luncheons."
Another affordable option for seniors at Kin Village is their "Unique Boutique" store, which sells gently used women's clothing. The store brings in $30,000 to the non-profit society every year. They have 20 volunteers who go through donations and whatever they can't use gets donated to the Boys and Girls Club.
John says that Kin Village has 100 active volunteers just in the community centre, with another 150 on the residental care side. That active volunteer spirit is what really makes Kin Village the heart of Tsawwassen.
"With a small town it's amazing how people come together," says John, who is the only paid staff member in the facility. "You see a volunteer here and then you see them again uptown in another capacity."
There are even former volunteers who are now living at Kin Village and taking part in activities.
"I'll see nurses who I worked with years ago in the care home and now they're coming to bridge classes or they might be in our day program. It's amazing how people are using our services now."
Although John lives in South Surrey-White Rock and makes the drive in to South Delta, he says he feels more at home when he's here working in Sunny Tsawwassen.
"I grew up in a small town in Sakastchewan as a kid. Being in Tsawwassen is like that small town. I really feel comfortable here."