It’s a perfect match.
Kirsten Waller has long coveted the job of Island Savings branch manager in Chemainus. The company, in turn, likes to have people with deep roots in the community in that capacity.
With Waller, 43, taking over the position in the last two years, it’s mission accomplished on both sides.
“That works out so great for me,” she said.
Likewise, from the Island Savings standpoint.
Waller’s connections to Chemainus are as strong as anyone’s. “My dad and grandparents owned half of downtown,” she indicated.
Dad Bill Jameson and his brother Tom ran Key Furniture at the corner of Willow and Mill Streets for many years after taking over the business from their dad Jack, Kirsten’s grandfather. On the other side of the family, Kirsten’s husband Travis is the nephew of Don and Karen Porter of Porter’s Dairy fame. Kirsten and Travis have been married 13 years.
Waller, nee Jameson, graduated from Chemainus Secondary School in 1992. She worked as a waitress at the Haida-Way restaurant during high school and eventually the banking business came calling.
“I wanted to go into journalism of some description,” Waller recalled. “I ended up working in the bank and never got around to it.”
She completed a 10-month diploma program in Office Administration at Malaspina College, the forerunner to Vancouver Island University, and then worked for a real estate appraisal company before going into banking.
Waller was at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Chemainus and other locations in Colwood, Duncan, Ladysmith and even spent time at UBC over a 10-year period. “Just moving around climbing up the ladder,” Waller reasoned.
She then joined the Island Savings team in 2007 just after the Chemainus division opened in its previous location next to the liquor store.
With young kids at the time, it provided Waller with the flexibility she was seeking. She eventually spent time at the Mill Bay, Salt Spring Island and Cowichan Commons branches.
It all led her back to Chemainus.
“This is the job I wanted,” she indicated. “I wanted to be the branch manager in Chemainus. That was my goal.”
The new building in the Village Square Shopping Complex opened four years ago and Waller took her place as branch manager in March of 2016.
“Now I feel like I should have a new goal,” she quipped. “I love it here. We’re really about community. It’s so easy here I know everybody already.”
Waller is passing that community involvement emphasis on to her daughters Justice, 14, and Sienna, 12.
“I’m teaching them how to be involved,” Waller noted. “Hopefully, they grow up just making that part of their lives.”
The girls keep Waller busy getting them to guitar lessons with Tony Jenks in Crofton and soccer for Sienna.
They’re getting the same basis of growing up in Chemainus like Waller had during her youth. Times are a bit different, but the strengths of being in a small community remain the same.
That all fits in with the Island Savings philosophy.
“It’s always local stuff,” she said. “It’s not the big national. We’re about helping out the local organizations when they need support.”
The Full Cupboard campaign that assists food banks like the Harvest House in Chemainus is one of Island Savings’ pet projects. Waller volunteers there on a regular basis.
“Mostly what I do is check the cans for the dates,” she pointed out.
Making sure no food is given out past the expiry dates is an important function of the food banks.
Island Savings continues to experience a membership growth each year and “it’s really the place to be in Chemainus,” Waller added.
In her spare time, Waller likes to play slo-pitch in Saltair and takes classes at Anytime Fitness besides running around with her family in a case of deja vu. They have a trip to Hawaii planned for March so she’s really looking forward to that.
Now that she’s been at her plum job for a while, “I guess the surprise was how much I enjoy being in my own community,” Waller stressed.
Customer service is at the forefront.
“We try to not just meet requests, but really talk to people about what their goals are,” Waller said. “There’s a lot of pleasure in that.”