Kim Williams has played a big role in shaping the lives of many young people on the North Coast, which is fitting as she was an infant herself when the family moved from the prairies to Prince Rupert.
“I was 16 months old when we moved here. I was born in Winnipeg and my dad was in the armed forces. When he was done with his tour he told my mom we were moving as far away as possible and building a 10-foot fence around our house so he wouldn’t have to talk to anyone for the next 50 years,” recalls Kim with a smile.
“So we came here, although my mom had family here as well.”
As a kid in Prince Rupert, Kim said her experience was much different than what the youth of today experience, something she said “breaks my heart”.
“We could go out any time and as long as the street lights were on we could be outside. I had some great friends in my neighbourhood, I grew up on Atlin Avenue, and I had friends even on the other side of the bridge. It was safe to go wherever we wanted to and everyone looked out for everyone else’s kids. It was safe, now you have to watch everything and be so wary of your children and everything going on in town,” said Kim.
“I can remember as a teenager being friends with the RCMP. My husband grew up here as well and we talk about that quite often because when you talk about it with your kids they say, ‘What do you mean you were friendly with the police?’. There was an officer named Max Lincoln who we were really good friends with.”
Kim was only 10 years old when she discovered her passion in life. From the first time she took a babysitting job, Kim knew that early childhood education was in her blood. After she graduated, though, she took a job working in office administration.
“And I hated it, I wanted to play and I didn’t want to grow up,” she said.
“I was waiting for that moment where I would wake up and say ‘I’m a grown-up now’. I’m 48 and I’m still waiting for that moment because I still don’t feel like a grown up.”
When that position came to an end, Kim says she just fell into daycare and was able to get early childhood education training through an EI program that looked to assist the underemployed.
“A friend of mine asked if I could help out, and the next thing I knew I had six kids in my living room. I don’t know how it happened ... I loved being my own boss, I loved having those children and their families around and it is such a nice feeling to know those people trust you. And the love that you get from children is unconditional, so as long as you do right by them and are proud of what you do, they go home happy and dirty and tired and you have done your job,” said Kim of a career that would span more than two decades at Kimmy’s House, a name chosen by some of the kids at the facility.
“I still call them all my parents and my babies. Some of them have grown up and have children of their own, but they’re still my kids and we still keep in touch. It’s humbling to think I had a part in how those children grew up, and so far none of them have ended up in trouble. I like to think I had a hand in that.”
When Kimmy’s House shut down last year, Kim took a position as the infant development consultant at North Coast Community Services. But never one to rest on her laurels, Kim is also in the midst of becoming a teacher — albeit to a much older audience than the daycare business.
“An instructor in one of the classes I was taking pulled me aside and I thought I was in trouble, but she asked if I had ever considered teaching because ‘you have a lot of information in your head’. I went home and joked about it with my husband and he said, ‘she’s right’,” she said.
“Right now I am taking teaching courses so that I can teach adults at a university and college level.”
Kim is also the current chair of the northwest division of Early Childhood Education B.C. and is busy planning the regional conference from Oct. 16-18 here in Prince Rupert.
With her husband, who she met in high school but didn’t begin dating until several years later, and two children living in Prince Rupert, Kim said she has no intention of taking her vast childcare experience anywhere else anytime soon.
“This is my home. I still have family here and my children are here. I have thought a couple of times about leaving, but I always come back to one question: Why?,” said Kim.
“I have an established community here and it is beautiful here, so why would I leave? I love it here.”