Jul 16, 2020
Local Hero Michelle Martins
Michelle Martins has traveled to many parts of the world, but she has always called Kitimat home. It’s where she was born and raised—she’s a third-generation Kitimatian– and where she has made a career of helping others.
Michelle is Director of Services at Tamitik Status of Women (TSW), a non-profit society that provides critical programs and services in support of individuals and families in Kitimat, with a particular focus on preventing violence against women, youth, and children. Established in 1976, TSW offers “ongoing support, programs, education and opportunities while prioritizing equality and safety,” according to its mission statement. The society’s work is especially important these days, with many people dealing with elevated levels of anxiety and uncertainty due to COVID-19 and its impacts.
The pandemic has disrupted normal routines and challenged households, businesses and organizations, including local non-profits whose services are sometimes taken for granted. Case in point: Kitimat Understanding the Environment (KUTE), where Michelle volunteers as vice-president.
Along with helping raise awareness about environmental protection, KUTE serves the local community by operating a recycling depot, the only one of its kind in Kitimat. KUTE has a small group of friendly, hard-working employees, some of whom have a disability. Their work has been made more difficult recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions it has caused to recycling production and supply chains.
As a result, KUTE has experienced some service interruptions. The KUTE team has kept people informed of the situation while asking for everyone’s patience, but sometimes, frustrations boil over, with staff taking the brunt of it.
Fortunately, Michelle says, most folks show understanding and kindness. And while she feels stress herself at times, she manages to find silver linings in all sorts of situations. “I consider myself to be a radical optimist,” Michelle laughs, noting that with every challenge comes a learning opportunity. Kitimat is fortunate to learn from her.