To find your own green paradise is the dream of many but to find it well before retirement is a dream fulfilled. Among those fortunate few are Patti and Bryan Kassa, who made Salmon Arm their home in 1987, when they were ready for a change. They had spent summers camping at Scotch Creek, and in 1986 paid Salmon Arm a visit, discovering a comfortable, laid-back community in a beautiful natural setting easily accessible to Vancouver when desired.
Patti accepted a management transfer with BC Hydro and Bryan was ready to change careers from a Labour Relations compensation analyst to opening his own business. In 1989 the timing was perfect for a lower mainland amenity–a coffee, cappuccino, and chocolate shop. “The Chocolate Bean” was the first such establishment in Salmon Arm, the first to be smoke-free, and soon became the ‘in place’ to meet and enjoy fine coffees and chocolates in a friendly atmosphere.
For Bryan and Patti this business provided a wonderful opportunity to meet people and become part of the community. They built their home in a green oasis the same year they opened the business. While ‘The Bean’, as it was lovingly called, became an iconic success, running it was much more than a nine to five job for Bryan, and it added a part-time job to Patti’s full-time career. In time the pace and hours started to be more than they wanted to handle, and they sold the shop in 1995. Bryan re-invented himself, adding a Certified Financial Planner designation to his diploma in Finance. With more normal hours there was now plenty of opportunity to volunteer and spend time with aging parents.
Patti and Bryan have a feeling of ownership in this community and want to help shape it through active involvement and their volunteer work. Bryan is on the board of directors of the Shuswap Community Foundation, a member of the Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association and has been involved with the Art Gallery and the Salmon Arm Downtown Improvement Association. Once Patti retired in 2009 she became involved with the Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association, the City of Salmon Heritage Commission, and the Shuswap Lady Striders. She is also a volunteer adult literacy tutor. Both sets of parents have now passed away and to honour them and support the community they love, Bryan and Patti established two funds in 2011 and 2012. “The Peter and Pat Cummings and Bryan and Patti Kassa Endowment Fund” focuses on children in memory of Patti’s parents and their lifelong work with the Lions, especially their involvement with children’s camps. The Eva and George Kassa and Bryan and Patti Kassa Endowment Fund in memory of Bryan’s parents is a discretionary fund that allows the Foundation Board to direct proceeds to current needs.
Both Bryan and Patti feel strongly about paying back to the community they live in. They know that the amenities the community offers are a function of the volunteers and the financial support they receive. In 2014 they combined the two earlier funds into one: the Peter and Pat Cummings, Eva and George Kassa and Bryan and Patti Kassa Endowment Fund, fulfilling that desire.