Humans of Campbell River: Tara Jordan

Humans of Campbell River is a collaboration between Destination Campbell River and Bluetree Photography. Showcasing the stories of those who call our coastal community home. Each week we deep dive into a new story and the connections between people and place. This week we’re sharing the story of Tara Jordan. 

My name is Tara Jordan, and my family and I have loved calling Campbell River home, for 5 generations.  My cultural heritage is a mixture of Dutch, German and Cree, as well as unknown history, due to my father’s closed adoption.  I was the 5th of 6 children, born into my large and loving family in 1978.  My Dad, the late Rick Jordan, was a commercial troller, who skippered the Nigie Isle, and had the biggest heart of any person I’ve ever met.  My Mom, Marlene Jordan, is well known for her years as a school bus driver, being the Campbell River Gingerbread lady, as well as for her 48 years of generously volunteering to help those in need, through our local Eagles Club. Growing up was definitely an adventure.  Not only were we an especially large and boisterous family, but we were also a foster family to 25 children, as well as ran a daycare out of our home. I have described my childhood to people, who have exclaimed, “It sounds like you were raised in a hostel!”  We absolutely had an open-door policy, with family and friends popping in frequently.  The coffee was always on and there was always enough room and food for more surprise guests.  I remember my mom saying one day, “when you’re feeding 12 kids, what’s 4 more?” to help some people feel at easy about staying for dinner.  

Tara Jordan, Humans of Campbell River

When I think back to my childhood, I can see how the seeds of my future social service career were being planted. Ironically, from a very young age, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you that being a social worker was the last possible job I would ever do. The social workers that I saw coming and going from my house, were some of the unhappiest and most stressed-out people that I’d ever met, so it was an easy profession to scratch off my list.

After spending my senior high school year in Ishikari, Hokkaido, Japan, (the C.R. sister city senior exchange is AWESOME by the way), I headed to UBC to study Japanese and pursue my goal of becoming a Japanese teacher. In my 2nd year of school, I had an abrupt change of heart, and panicked my way in to a free 6-week career counselling session. I think I was told about a dozen times that social work was high on my list of most suitable careers, before one of the career counsellors finally said the words, “you do know, that there are many different kinds of social work, Tara?!” This was a pivotal moment in my life. Until that time, I thought that social work was exclusively child protection work. But when I heard about the broader career including dozens of amazing and diverse options, I was ready to jump in.

Tara Jordan

After graduating from the School of Social Work and Family Studies, (with a minor in Japanese), I returned to Japan for another year, to teach English, then headed to Kerala, India for 9 months, (to visit my long-time pen pal and volunteer in his community), and lastly, wound up my travels with 6 months in Europe. When I returned to Canada, I was excited to get my foot in the social service door. My big break came when I was hired by S.U.C.C.E.S. (the largest social service for immigrants in the Lower Mainland), as the head coordinator running a pilot prevention and intervention project for newly immigrated and vulnerable youth. It was a sink or swim moment, that many of us have in our first jobs, and I had a blast swimming my way through that program.

When the funding for that pilot project wound down, I began looking for my next adventure. Simultaneously, my partner Jarek and I, who had met in grade 11, were looking for an opportunity to move back to Campbell River. I was hired to work with the Campbell River Multicultural and Immigrant Services Association as a diversity educator and Youth for Diversity project coordinator for 4 years and went on to work with the John Howard Society of North Island as the KidStart Mentoring Program Coordinator for 16 years. Although I’ve left the John Howard Society recently, KidStart will always hold a big piece of my heart. Watching nurturing and life changing relationships develop between mentors and mentees, many of which continue to become lifelong friends, is a truly beautiful thing to witness.

Tara Jordan

 My current days are filled with co-running my partner and I’s renewable energy and electrical contracting business, Small Planet Energy, as well homeschooling our 2 children, and volunteering to coordinate the Caremongering Campbell River (CMCR), initiative. I founded CMCR, which is a grassroots group helping vulnerable people via Facebook, in March of 2020, in response to a massive swell of people in crisis due to covid. I was being inundated with people needing help, as well as people wanting to help, and I felt that my hands were too often tied. Almost everyone either has time and resources to share or need a little help at some point in our lives, so it has been beyond wonderful to be able to connect these dots on a bigger scale.
CMCR now has 40 screened volunteers and over 2000 members, that together have raised over $10,000 to help get groceries, furniture, clothing, and other necessities to those in need in our community since 2020. Several of our screened volunteers deliver food bank orders to 45 families, every week. Other volunteers help with delivering free furniture to those without vehicles, delivering hampers, gathering clothing, preparing, and distributing community meals, organizing fundraisers, or distributing blankets.

Because life is all about balance… despite my busy life… I also make fun a big priority whenever I can. In my spare time, I play soccer in the mid-island women’s soccer league, enjoy beginners pole dancing classes at the Love for Pole studio, attend events at our Centre for Inspired Living, participate in traditional sweat lodge ceremonies, enjoy running on local trails and visit with my abundance of close family and friends every chance I get. I am incredibly lucky to be raising our little ones on the same road that I was raised, as well the same road that my Mom and her siblings were raised. The Nunns Creek runs through our land and is a creek that 5 generations of my family have enjoyed. This means more to me than words can say! Campbell River is a truly special and supportive community that I am proud to call home.

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