The smell of food wafting across Willows Beach can only mean one thing.
The Oak Bay Kiwanis Tea Room officially opened its doors over the weekend, moving from breakfast only on Sundays to full time through Sept. 28 in anticipation of another busy year making both food and money for the community.
“There’s all kinds of groups that need our help. … They ask for it; we try to do it,” says volunteer tea room manager Jan Burns. “Every bit of money that is raised here goes to that. We have about 50 or so community projects that we give to. … It’s basically helping those people that could use a little help.”
Money from the proceeds of the tea room, originally built in 1949, go directly to community causes and functions including parks projects, Boy Scouts, scholarships, a dementia care home and lower-income senior’s housing. The Oak Bay Kiwanis Pavilion Foundation-run facility raised more than $38,000 last year alone.
Burns, a former school secretary at Oak Bay High school for 27 years, is into her second year as the manager and says she enjoys volunteering with others from the Kiwanis and working with the youth they hire on as staff, including Taylor Phillips who will spends her second summer at the beach-side eatery.
“This is the community I love. I don’t mind rolling out of bed, walking down to work with this view. It is really awesome,” the fourth-year University of Victoria student says. “It feels good to be part of a community and a team that’s doing such a good thing and everyone is really happy.”
Hiring students like Phillips and helping those in need is something Burns is proud of. She hopes others will come out to enjoy Willows Beach and support the community.
“There is some lovely people (and) this is the neighbourhood get together for them. It’s a people place and I am a people person. It’s a good place to be,” Burns says. “While we know we are not anywhere near the Empress Hotel, it is a nice family space to come. We hope everyone will come and see us.”
The Oak Bay Kiwanis Tea Room, 2740 Dalhousie St., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.