Leaving Her Mark on Our Community
Jacqui Turner is not one to sit back and wait for something to happen; when she sees something that needs tending to she dives right in. In fact, this vivacious Stevestonite has spent her entire life volunteering and has left some impressive legacies along the way.
Turner was born in the town of Sale, south of Manchester, England, during the Second World War. Following the war, at age 10, she became an active volunteer when she realized some women in her community were too nervous to leave their homes and required assistance with their shopping. As a teenager her volunteer work escalated when she and a friend founded a soccer team called the Lincoln Lads to help keep local boys out of trouble. With a smile she mentions the team still exists today.
Turner says, “I’ve always been a volunteer.”
While her full name is Jacqueline, she has gone by Jacqui since she was 13 years old when she decided she wanted to be different. Turner calls herself a bit of a trendsetter. Her past careers include working as an interior decorator and as a fashion buyer. Both of these jobs required her to be an imaginative forward thinker. These skills transferred nicely to her volunteer work, which has often involved startup projects requiring a visionary leader to get them off the ground.
When Turner, her husband Tony and their two young children arrived in Richmond in 1978 she saw a need for lunch hour parent supervisors at her children’s elementary school. She organized a group of mothers to volunteer and fill this void, which was the a new concept in Richmond. She reports several years later people were hired to fill this role.
Moving on to other projects, she supported the movement for Richmond to have its own theatre facility, and joined the fundraising committee to build Gateway Theatre. She was proud to see the dream realized when the curtain raised in 1984.
The saying goes if you want something done, ask a busy person. Turner always rises to the challenge.
The Turners have operated their home-based businesses (A. Turner Sales and A. J. S. Turner Property Inc.) for many years. In the 1990s they were aware numerous Steveston village businesses and some homes were being broken into.
Turner says, “There was a ‘Fagin’ who was sending boys out to do break-ins.” People were complaining and Turner took action. She contacted a police constable and circulated a petition that she presented to city council. She wasn’t sure what the outcome would be but she knew she wanted a community police station opened, which would be the first of its kind in Richmond. Turner says, “I was doing it for the people.” Within a short time Steveston had its own community police station.
The Steveston Museum Society benefited from 20 years of her volunteer service. She also contributed 30 years of volunteer time to the Steveston Community Society and is most proud of the opening of the indoor tennis courts and the children’s water park.
Turner volunteered with Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society for 25 years and also was involved with the London Heritage Farm Society for five years as the chair and two additional years as the treasurer. She was exceptionally proud of the volunteers who worked in the tearoom and all of the people power that went into running the Christmas craft sale and the annual family farm day.
What is her most fulfilling volunteer accomplishment? Without hesitation Turner says it was the work she and a group of approximately 25 advisory members (who called themselves the Community Building Consensus) accomplished making the Bayview Street waterfront boardwalk become reality.
Prior to construction of the boardwalk she reports it was common to see rats, feral cats and seedy elements in the area. She mentions that the artifacts and design concept were in place prior to the Onni Group purchasing the site. She is proud of the boardwalk beautification thanks to the community’s efforts and is grateful Onni built it as directed.
Although it seems like there are not enough hours in the day for the sheer volume of volunteer work she has accomplished, Turner mentions she has always treated her volunteerism like a nine to five job. She had dinner on the table every night. She laughs when she admits if she was the chair of a board she made it work around her schedule. She was careful to not let her philanthropic work interrupt her business or home life.
In addition to giving back to Steveston, Turner supports a variety of charities including Vancouver’s Turning Point Recovery Society, Union Gospel Mission and Covenant House. She says, “The young are our future. I like to see people who have gone down come back up.”
When asked what she most loves about our community she mentions the scenic beauty, her favourite restaurant haunt (Blue Canoe) and walking down the street and running into people she knows.
If she could choose only one thing that defines what makes Steveston special the answer comes easily, “It’s the people that make Steveston.” Undoubtedly it’s special people like Turner who have contributed to the best of what Steveston has to offer.