Cathi Hobbins: A Beacon of Generosity and Community Spirit
Grande Prairie has been more than a home for Cathi Hobbins; it's been a canvas for her life's masterpiece of giving and community impact. From her unexpected relocation from Calgary to raising a family and building multiple businesses, Cathi's journey is a testament to the profound connections one can forge within a tight-knit community.
"We loved Grande Prairie for so many reasons and ended up raising our girls in our tight-knit community, building multiple businesses that were embraced by the area, and finding so many opportunities to work within the community to give back," reminisces Cathi, highlighting the unexpected turn of their initial five-year plan into an incredible twenty-five-years in the Peace Region.
As an entrepreneur, Cathi recognized that her successes were intertwined with the community's support. This realization fueled her desire to reciprocate, not just out of gratitude but with a genuine passion for making a positive impact. "I wanted to give back to the community that supported me wherever I was able to, but also the feel factor of doing something for the greater good, with a like-minded group of people, and leaving things better than they were when we started," she reflects.
The spark for Cathi's community involvement ignited during her first volunteering experience in 2004 for the Fine Home Design Lottery. Collaborating with inspiring friends like Marie Stevens and Jennifer Thompson, she delved into new fundraising endeavors, including the impactful Ladies in Red initiative that touched the lives of thousands of women over the years. "Those two women gave back effortlessly, and it was built into their DNA, and has always motivated me to be better, do more, and give back," Cathi shares, emphasizing the enduring influence of role models.
Ladies in Red was a major factor and highlight for Cathi. Hosted in her shop, Urban Home, the magical atmosphere of that first year set the stage for a growing tradition that touched hearts annually.
Navigating economic uncertainties in the Peace Region posed significant challenges, impacting both businesses and fundraising efforts. Yet, Cathi's resilience and the community's unwavering support prevailed. "Gratefully, there are always people able to give back, as the bleak times are the worst for those in need, whether financially or emotionally," she acknowledges.
Cathi's belief in the contagious nature of a giving attitude materialized in initiatives like Support the Girls, born out of a desire to celebrate a friend's 25th business anniversary while aiding local women undergoing breast cancer treatment. "I don't know if these actions inspire others in the community, but they continue to inspire me to come back to Grande Prairie to help with this initiative, even though we relocated back to Calgary earlier this year," Cathi states.
For women aspiring to make a difference, Cathi offers advice: "Find a need - there are so many! Get involved with an event and work with a team - great things can be accomplished." Drawing from her experience with Ladies in Red, Conspiracy of Hope, and Support the Girls, she emphasizes that making a difference doesn't always require being on a steering committee but can be achieved by making small contributions in many areas, “The personal impact may not be as big - but to be a small part of a huge event is still helping to make a difference. Figure out what you love to do, how much time you are willing to spend doing it for your community, and find a place that needs your service. There are no shortages of needs or places to volunteer in Grande Prairie.”
Cathi sees women as crucial architects of community building, citing their ability to identify needs and multitask effectively. Their nurturing instincts, honed as family CEOs, seamlessly transfer to the broader community. "It's just a much larger and more complicated family," she observes.
Currently, Cathi remains passionate about projects like redesigning the waiting area for women undergoing mammograms and biopsies at the new hospital. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, she's determined to create a warm, comforting space for those in vulnerable moments.
Reflecting on personal growth, Cathi attributes her transformation to the move to Grande Prairie, where she escaped the chaos of city life. The slower pace allowed her to be present in her daughters' lives, fostering meaningful connections and laying the foundation for successful businesses.
Empathy, patience, and love are qualities Cathi deems essential for women aspiring to impact their communities. Her inspiration, Marie Stevens, exemplifies these traits, standing out as a class act and dedicated community contributor.
As part of the '30 Women for 30 Years' campaign, Cathi shares a timeless message: "There is always someone who needs you... Make eye contact, smile at strangers, and never be afraid to say hello - it commits you to nothing other than being a kind person." Her legacy echoes through every act of kindness, weaving a narrative of compassion and community spirit for generations to come.