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In Focus | Shannon Christensen

In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition for the people, businesses and organizations that help make our city great. The team at KelownaNow.com is passionate about this community and the people that make it amazing. We want to show our friends, neighbours, family and colleagues that we notice them and the fabulous things that they do.

What is your name?
Shannon Christensen.

Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kelowna?
Born and raised in Kelowna since 1986.

Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
My husband Dylan. It's rare to actually be married to your best friend, but I have that privilege. He makes me laugh, we have so much fun together and he makes me want to be a better person everyday.

If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
Mexico, to relax with my boys and hubby on a well deserved vacation.

What is your favourite local store in Kelowna and why?
Costco! They have the best items at the best price and bulk is key with a big family. They always have friendly staff and are very community-minded.

What is your favourite activity?
Reading, swimming and camping while trying to keep up with a house full of boys! Even our dog is a boy.

If you had to choose: pizza, tacos, or burgers?
Burgers. Definitely burgers.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
I went up to give a presentation in my second year psychology class and got such bad stage fright that I started crying. I couldn't stop. I was so embarrassed but I kept trying, so it sounded more like a hiccup infected, snot dripping plea to let me pass.

What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
I started a group for moms in 2014 to help one another, and now 11,000 local moms joined the movement and inspired us to develop a fully registered charity to reduce the poverty related issues that plague our community.

Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
That's a hard one! Some of my favourite memories involve being on the ocean with my dad and three sisters. We would sail the open sea for days at a time, exploring until we decided to stop at a harbour. My dad taught us to shark fish and catch prawns, as well as how to drive and park a 30-foot boat when I was 10. The sound of water still puts me to sleep.

Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
I volunteer at Mamas for Mamas as the executive director full-time. I left my paid job as a trauma counsellor so I could really focus on taking Mamas to the next level. I volunteer 40 hours a week, and I've never loved anything more! I have the privilege of working with an amazing group of women at the organization and helping mamas overcome adversity on a daily basis. Talk about filling your cup!

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
We all really need to be kinder to one another, locally and globally. I would shift the societal focus on needing material items for happiness, and encourage people to base their worth on the strength of their relationships including the one they have with themselves. I would also shift the focus from competition to collaboration and encourage people to do one good thing for someone else each day. If we plant a tree everyday of our lives, it may not seem like much until you look back on the forest you've built with your small everyday efforts.

What is your favourite activity in Kelowna?
Swimming and playing at the beach.

Where would you sneak away to in Kelowna to spend some time alone?
To my dad's bench up on Knox Mountain.

Where would you like to see positive change in Kelowna and why?
I would love to see a big increase in affordable housing and low income housing developments. In these complexes, we need to add big community gardens with co-op tenants helping to plant, harvest and use other sustainable practices.

What do you think makes Kelowna great?
There is so much to appreciate, the aesthetic beauty, the countless things to do with family and the strong sense of community that surrounds this town. People look out for one another like the small town it used to be.

What are 3 things on your bucket list?
1. Go on Ellen to share the vision of Mamas for Mamas!
2. Go to Ireland with my whole family, sisters, brother and kids.
3. Go sky diving.

Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I was suspended from Grade 10 for breaking a guy's nose... He deserved it!

How do people connect with you, personally, through social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)
Facebook or Instagram.

What is the name of your business/organization?
Mamas for Mamas.

Why did you get into/start this business?
I felt we needed to be helping each other more as mothers and wanted to build a community where this was the rule and not the exception. Poverty relief became a huge issue and we realized that there needed to be more hands on attention, so we registered as a charity.

What is the goal of your business?
To reduce the impact of poverty on low-income mothers, families and improve overall quality of life.

What has been your biggest struggle either in work or life?
Losing my dad to a heart attack when I was 22. It changed my entire life and I really had to rebuild myself completely. Overcoming this deep depression was a wakeup call for the stigma that surrounds grief and mental illness.

If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
It was a hard road but it taught me a lot, I would do it the same.

What do you always find yourself saying?
'We can do anything ladies, but we can’t do everything!'

If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select?
Sophie Trudeau or Michelle Obama.

Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
We are only as strong as the community of which we are apart. Supporting local is supporting real dreams coming true.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?
Completing my Masters in psychology with two babies to look after and having my hubby working out of town. It was a lot of hard work but I finally did it in 2015!

Give someone you think that deserves a shout out and explain why!
My mom, Michelle. She raised five children on her own and taught me that although I can do anything, I can't do everything and that's okay. She modelled how to be a strong female role model and loved me even when I wasn't sure how to love myself.

My choice for the KelownaNow In Focus spotlight is:
Candace Chisholm, CCO Mamas for Mamas.

Some general comments I would like to share are:
I am just so grateful to live in this community, where we build each other up instead of tearing anyone down. I am so proud to be part of this movement bringing women and children out of poverty and into a world of possibility.

We encourage you to leave your comments and words of support below and submit your own nomination by clicking HERE. You are also welcome to submit a form of your own by clicking HERE. Thank you, Kelowna.



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