Karin Edberg-Lee has lived in the Mission area for almost her entire life. When he was six-years-old, her family moved from Port Coquitlam to her grandfather’s homestead in Silverhill.
She went to school at Silverhill Elementary and eventually graduated from Mission Secondary in 1958 and is now looking forward to her 60th grad reunion later this year.
Back then, Silverhill was in her words “basically the little Swedish community that settled and stayed.”
It was there that she first learned about volunteering.
“In our time, the children pitched in and helped with community events and efforts, whatever they were… I’ve been volunteering all my life.”
Some of the first groups she joined included the Junior Red Cross and 4H, she then progressed to coaching baseball, working with the legion and other groups.
But Edberg-Lee says people don’t volunteer like they used to. With both men and women working full-time, the majority of volunteers now seem to be seniors.
“I think volunteering is something that’s going to have to be missed before they realize it has to be reestablished.”
And she’s doing her part and more. Never one to sit idly by, Edberg-Lee is as busy as she ever was.
After joining with Lifetime Learning, she managed to combine some of her greatest passions into a full-time commitment.
“Fashions, clothing and history for me just fit together and are two of the things I’m passionate about.”
Edberg-Lee has an “enormous” collection of old clothing that has overtaken her basement. She uses them to put on historic fashion shows all across the province. Organizations hold the events as fundraisers and she is only too happy to help.
“This past year, for Mission’s 125th, I dressed about 35 people who were in period costume at the picnic.”
Last year she did a show in White Rock for Canada’s 150th and she has organized many others. On a good year, she’ll do six different historical clothing shows, but now prefers to do a little less.
She managed to amass her collection of historical clothing the old fashioned way.
“I did some very selective thrift shop scouring.”
As her reputation grew, people began to donate clothes to her, some even include an old photo of a relative wearing the outfits.
She hopes that one day, she can donate those items, the ones with specific details, to the Mission Museum, if they want them.
Organizing shows and collecting historical pieces aren’t Edberg-Lee’s only talents. She used to belong to a ladies singing group called Harmony, which performed together for 35 years.
The group would travel around the Lower Mainland entertaining people at rest homes and other venues.
She decided to leave the group about a dozen years ago when she became more deeply involved in costuming and creating clothes.
“Clothing won over singing.”
None of this would have been possible, said Edberg-Lee, if she hadn’t started volunteering. It not only provides you with a broad and varied contact with a lot of people doing a lot of different things, but you’ll find an interest in something you’ve never really thought about before.
“You’re never too old to fulfill your life’s dreams, you just have to get out there and start doing things, and get into certain situations where your ideas and passions are appreciated… You can’t live a full life just sitting in front of the television.”