For Emily Colombo, saying goodbye to Fort St. James isn’t easy but she takes pride in knowing that the community is moving forward and that it will continue to accomplish big things and even greater success.
Colombo, the economic development officer/deputy corporate officer for the District of Fort St. James left her hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and ventured off to the Fort in 2011.
She remembers well the warm welcome received by the community and is grateful for the many opportunities that were made available to her educationally, in the outdoors and though her work.
It was this work that brought her to a much smaller community than she was used to. But having instantly fallen in love with it, she couldn’t wait to get started and share her vision.
“I have experienced so much satisfaction and enthusiasm because so many people and organizations in the community were rowing in the same direction, at the same time,” Colombo said.
“It comes from sharing a vision for what the community wants and aligning it with council’s priorities. We set the vision for what could be achieved at a community visioning event back in 2013 and it has really guided the work. Working together has enabled us to accomplish great things and it gives me a lot of positive encouragement for what the community will continue to achieve when they work together.”
Colombo has certainly worked closely with the community and their gratitude for her efforts is undeniable.
“She has brought so much to the community. She saw seniors were struggling and she wanted to do something,” said Judy Greenaway, president of the Seniors Association.
Colombo, 32, is proud of the Seniors Helping Seniors program which she was determined to develop. The program, now a huge success, provides grocery deliveries and transportation to seniors who are medically challenged.
“It’s been so rewarding having the opportunity to work with and learn from such wonderful people in the community. I never thought there would be a job doing what I love, in such a beautiful place and with such great people. They are all very, very special to me,” Colombo said.
“Some of the best work we have done together has been low cost but high impact, like the Seniors Helping Seniors services, relationship building with our First Nations and running the rental database which has helped place hundreds of people in rental housing,” she said.
Mayor of Fort St. James, Rob MacDougall, is thankful for what Colombo has done for the community.
According to MacDougall, Colombo worked over and beyond her role. “She took a vision and she moved it forward. We hate to see her go. Words can’t express how much she means to the community.”
Colombo will begin her new job in December as regional manager for the Cariboo Region with the Regional Economic Operations Branch of the Ministry of Jobs and Tourism and Skills Training.
“I will be based out of Quesnel, B.C. where my wonderful partner Richard is from and I will have the opportunity to do economic development work with a variety of communities in the area spanning from Bella Coola to Wells, and Clinton to Prince George. I look forward to meeting and working with the communities there,” Colombo says.
So what is it about Fort St. James that makes it so special for Colombo?
“Why, it’s the people of course. We’ll be back. We still have a home here. It gives us an excuse to come back.”