Deborah Hollins

Deborah is a social worker with a rich history of working with marginalized and vulnerable people and community development.  She came to NFLA in 2012 with an abiding belief in resilience and healing. As such, she works to cultivate equity, to live a balanced life that is deeply connected to community, and to apply ethical values to actualize meaningful social change.  

Deborah Hollins is the Executive Director of Nanaimo Family Life Association. 

Contact Deborah:
250-754-3331 (201)

Cathy Holmes 

Cathy moved to Nanaimo from Vancouver almost 9 years ago. For almost 30 years, Cathy was a private educator specializing in working with High School youth in order that they may excel at their final exams. In 2014, she began working with older adults and became the Program Coordinator for the Better at Home Program with Nanaimo Family Life Association. An avid networker, Cathy later became the President of the Nanaimo Senior Services Network. In 2016 she became a regular contributor to “Living for the Health of It” on CHLY 101.7 FM discussing issues related to older adults on Vancouver Island.  In 2017, she began producing Wise Folks Radio and Wise Folks Television for Shaw Spotlight. Cathy’s natural outgoing and engaging personality finds her regularly volunteering her time to emcee and co-host community events including Dragon Boat Festival, the Silly Boat Regatta, The Nanaimo Child Development Telethon, and The Show on Shaw.  For 7 years, Cathy has written for Nanaimo Voyager Magazine her own bi-line “Tutor Talks.” Cathy’s love for building community is the cornerstone of her work, noting that sharing information through education and collaboration is the key to all successful projects.

Cathy is the Better at Home Project Administrator for Nanaimo Family Life Association and the host of WiseFolks. 

Contact Cathy:

Mia Maarika

Mia’s background is in Nursing/Psychiatric Nursing. She is a Registered Professional Counsellor. She grew up in Sweden and came to Canada when she was 23 years old. She has been involved at NFLA for 10 years and has coordinated the counselling program for almost 8 years. Her passions are personal growth, spirituality, meditation, nature, books and her awesome children.

Mia is Programs Coordinator for the Volunteer Counselling Program and Senior Peer Counselling Program at Nanaimo Family Life Association.

Contact Mia:
250-754-3331 (513)

Donna Berthiaume

Donna graduated from VIU with her Associate in Commerce specializing in Accounting.  She has an extensive background in both “for profit” and “not for profit” bookkeeping and financial management.  Donna was born in Montreal and moved west until she found her home in Nanaimo. Loving the ocean, forests and the people, Nanaimo is the place for her. 

Donna is the Manager of Financial Services at Nanaimo Family Life Association. 

Contact Donna:
250-754-3331 (204)

Sherry Schmidt

Sherry has a diverse array of experience from time spent volunteering for Animal Rescue Organizations, extensive background as an Administrative Assistant both in healthcare and government, and years of experience in the Real Estate Industry.   She is passionate about nature and animals and held her equestrian and Canine/Feline First Aid Certifications. Sherry is licenced as a Private Pilot and flown across Canada in a single engine airplane. Sherry recently completed a course at VIU to upgrade her MOA certification, completed her technical upgrading at the Nanaimo Career College and completed course training in Communication & Writing.   Though originally from Alberta, she has moved to the island to be closer to family. Sherry enjoys gardening, doing small home renovations, photography and hiking with her dogs exploring all of the beauty nature has to offer.

Sherry is the Administrative Assistant for the Nanaimo Family Life Association.

Contact Sherry:

Krista Whittaker

Krista Whittaker grew up in beautiful Nanaimo, B.C. She was a sport enthusiast and liked to enjoy life by hanging out with family and friends. She ventured off the island to complete her Bachelors in Kinesiology degree from UBC, where she also participated on the Women’s Varsity Soccer Team. Following her degree, Krista returned home to pursue her work as a kinesiologist. Within her work as a kinesiologist, Krista has a passion for enabling the senior population to live healthier lives. This passion stemmed from the realization of how fortunate she was to have four grandparents alive in her youth years. She was able to create lasting memories with them and learn many valuable life lessons from them. However, Krista’s passion for assisting the elderly to live healthier, happier lives has grown much further than her work as a kinesiologist. This is when Krista applied for the Client Service Specialist Position at NFLA’s Better at Home Program, where she now resides. Previously, Krista was involved with the Better at Home Program, as a volunteer then contractor. In the coming years, Krista hopes to continue following her passion, growing the ways in which to assist elders to live healthier, happier and more independent lives. 

Krista is the Client Service Specialist for the Better at Home program with Nanaimo Family Life Association.

Contact Krista:

250-754-3331 (202)

Elizbeth Holland


Elizabeth started working for Nanaimo Family Life Association as a youth and family counsellor for “our camp 78”, a day camp for vulnerable and at-risk youth. She work in this capacity for 4 years, then went to Victoria to continue her career with youth. 

Elizabeth has work in the counselling field for most of her adult life and is a certified herbalist, birth doula, and has a post-graduate diploma in process-orientated psychology. Elizabeth returned to Nanaimo in 2012 and came back to NFLA to work in the Art Works program with youth. Elizabeth has had many interesting life experiences, including sailing to the South Pacific. She loves being a part of Nanaimo Family Life Association.  

Elizabeth is the Coordinator of the Better at Home Program on Gabriola Island.

Contact Elizabeth:
250 – 764-3331 (726)

Sacia Burton

Sacia brings a diverse array of experience to her role from time spent in politics, nonprofit, hospitality, and tourism. She is passionate about local food and participatory democracy. Sacia holds a BA in Politics and Philosophy from Vancouver Island University. Though originally hailing from Prince Edward Island, she has called Nanaimo home for eight years. In her spare time, Sacia enjoys gardening, embroidery, yoga, kayaking, and making good food with friends.

Sacia Burton is the Seniors Connect Administrator for the Nanaimo Family Life Association.

Contact Sacia:
250-754-3331 (203)

Kayla Wright
Kayla enjoys the outdoors and finds herself out in nature as much as possible. Kayla first became involved with Nanaimo Family Life Association back in May 2015 through her VIU Social Services practicum. Kayla also took part in the 120-hour Volunteer Counselling Training through Nanaimo Family Life. She found the training to be very beneficial, especially in terms of self-growth and awareness. After her practicum Kayla got involved with the Better at Home Program, as a volunteer then a contractor. In 2016 Kayla became the Centre Administrator/Office Coordinator for the Seniors Connect project and in 2019 Kayla then became the full-time Outreach worker/Office Coordinator for the Seniors Connect project. Involvement with Nanaimo Family Life Association has had such a positive impact on my life regarding how I interact with others. By nature, Kayla is a people person, but she continues to grow and learn daily. One of the best ways to find happiness, fulfillment, a sense of purpose, and a sense of belonging, is to try to help improve the lives of others. Kayla feels she has been given that opportunity through her involvement with Nanaimo Family Life Association.

Kayla is the Outreach Worker at the Seniors Connect Centre. 

Contact Kayla:

Alice Trout

Alice was born in Holland and grew up in Montreal. She left at the age of 21 to travel and work her way through South America, Africa, the Middles East, Asia and Europe. After 30 years she settled with her family in Nanaimo in 2005. Alice holds a degree in Social Studies and a post graduate certificate in Development Management.  In her spare time, she enjoys walking, reading, quilting and spending time with friends.

Alice Trout is currently the Administrator for the Seniors Connect Centre at Wallace Street.

Contact Alice:


Lily loves walks in the woods and gets excited when she smells treats. She has been known to zoom when excited. Lily is NFLA’s Morale Officer & Captain of Belly Rubs. She comes to work with Alice.