From Girl Guides, to the Food Bank, to community theatre programs, Lois Godfrey spends her days involving herself in the community however possible because meeting and helping others is what she enjoys most.
“Everybody’s a stranger until you meet them,” Godfrey said.
Born and raised in Salmon Arm, B.C., Godfrey moved to Kitimat when she was 14 years old. In Salmon Arm, Godfrey had been a part of the Girl Guides group, but didn’t rejoin the Kitimat Girl Guides when she moved until she was in her mid-20s.
“My kids were starting to grow and a friend said they needed help with Girl Guides, and I figured if I didn’t do it, no one else would, so I volunteered and became a helper,” Godfrey said.
Godfrey was quickly “thrown into the deep end” with the Guides and was given the role of quartermaster — the person responsible for providing food, supplies, and other needs — for a week-long camping trip for around 25 girls and leaders.
“I managed that, then did my papers for the full quartermaster position, then I did that for a few years at the camps.”
This year marks Godfrey’s 50th anniversary of working with the Girl Guides, though she now works more with the Girl Guides who are over 30 years old — called the Trefoil Guild — rather than the younger girls like she used to. She said she has stuck with them this long because she enjoys the variety of skills and activities the program provides.
“It’s such a diverse movement, you know, you can do anything,” Godfrey said. “You get to do so many things, and it’s not just a single focus thing. The girls get…to go out and see things and do things and contribute to the community.”
One of Godfrey’s favourite adventures with the Guides was “accidentally” joining a trip to Mexico after the leader who was supposed to be going got injured and was unable to make the trip. Godfrey knew she was in for an interesting time straight from the get-go.
“We took fifteen Pathfinders — excuse me, fourteen — one girl refused to go,” Godfrey said. “She ran out to the car, locked the door, and wouldn’t come out until the plane left! I wouldn’t have wanted to be in that car on the way home!”
Down in Mexico, Godfrey and the girls worked on a housing project, building a dwelling for an old woman who wanted her own place, just off the site that her family lived on.
“But the site was an old garbage dump,” Godfrey said. “We had to move broken glass and all sorts of stuff just to put in some posts.”
They used two-by-twos and a few two-by-fours to make the shelter, and there were no windows so people couldn’t sneak in. The entire structure was covered with corrugated cardboard soaked in creosote. They drove nails into bottle caps, as well, so they didn’t cut through cardboard when nailing them in.
Godfrey said it was an eye-opener for everyone.
“We were working with all sorts of things. We had to pull out nails and straighten them out just so we could build.”
Along with the Girl Guides, Godfrey has been and still is involved with several community groups, including the Kitimat Food Bank, the Kitimat General Hospital Auxiliary, the Museum Heritage Committee, and the costuming department for On Cue Players, the Kitimat community theatre group, and for the high school musical theatre program.
“I do the repairing and the finding [of costumes], and the making if necessary,” Godfrey said. “I learned how to sew when I was a kid…and it’s just something that I’ve enjoyed. I still do.”
Godfrey said she sews quilts more than clothes nowadays, but recently helped make caps and gowns for the hospital during COVID-19. She’s always looking for ways to stay involved with the community and meet new people, because that’s just who she is as a person.
“My mother-in-law told me that I was born to serve people, so I’ve been doing it all my life,” Godfrey said. “And I enjoy it.”