Who’s Who: Jeff Kelly

Who’s Who:
Jeff Kelly: Superhuman!
Mike Butler

I rang in the New Year at The Church Brewing Company, Wolfville, and then a few days later, at The Church again, I celebrated the 50th birthday of Julie Skaling, who organized a silent auction-casino night fundraiser for the Flower Cart, New Minas. At the helm of the Flower Cart is Executive Director Jeff Kelly, and this pretty amazing man has been making lots of news lately, so why not have a little feature here in The Grapevine too? The fundraiser was a grand success, thanks to The Church lending their space, the many organizers, and of course, the generous attendants, raising $5000 that evening. Jeff is not shy to chat about what he does and who he is and I’m excited to share his story with you.

Jeff Kelly was born in Saint John, New Brunswick but moved to Bridgewater Nova Scotia in 1985. After high school he joined the army and spent a few years posted in Petawawa, Ontario as an artillery gunner with 2RCHA. His time in the military was a great experience and he loved the opportunity to see the world. After that, he says, “I started university in 1994 and earned my bachelor’s degree from SMU in 1998, and a master’s in public administration from Dalhousie in 2000. After grad school I worked in Winnipeg for three years and returned to NS in 2003, just in time to experience Hurricane Juan. I was living in downtown Halifax at that time. I became a permanent resident of the Valley in 2012 and love it. I currently live in Coldbrook with my amazing partner Trish Rafuse and have four equally amazing kids in my life: my own two, Isabel and Victor (they live in Halifax with their mom), and step-daughters Madison and Santanna.”

From 2006-08, Jeff worked at NSCC Kingstec Campus doing some research and teaching in the School of Health and Human Services, where he learned about the great work of the Flower Cart. Jeff really respected the organization and the impact it makes in the lives of so many. In 2014, he was executive director of the Nova Scotia Physiotherapy Association, on contract and learned The Flower Cart was looking for an executive director, so he applied and the rest is history. Jeff doesn’t see himself as unique but he feels he has certainly brought an entrepreneurial and global perspective to the position and he thinks the organization has benefited from that. The Flower Cart, for me, has always been an organization known for providing wonderful opportunities and products to the Valley (the bread!), and now to know one of the faces behind it all is great!

“It’s no real secret that The Flower Cart Group is in a capital campaign to raise funds for a new building,” Jeff says. “We own land on the east side of the Louis Millett Complex in the Village of New Minas. We are two thirds of the way to our funding goal and hope to break ground in the spring of 2021. Keep an eye out for one of the many fundraisers we have coming up!”

In his spare time, Jeff loves to live a healthy and happy lifestyle. He loves to read and ride his bike. He was an avid cyclist in his twenties and thirties, riding with a couple clubs in Halifax and competing in road cycling races recreationally. In the spring and summer you may find Jeff huffing and puffing his way down the railway trail on his hybrid somewhere between Berwick and Wolfville trying to, as he puts it, “recapture that old fitness that left me years ago.” Jeff says that cycling in the Valley is amazing, the best in the province in his opinion.

“I also run my kids around a lot with their activities,” he says, “so that takes up a lot of my time, and I do really enjoy that. My son also rides his bike, and plays hockey for the Halifax Hawks. My daughter loves equestrian sports and rides 2-3 times per week all year round. I have recently joined the Berwick Recreational Curling League. It’s my first time curling and I have fallen in love with the sport. When I lived in Winnipeg I watched a lot of curling, because next to hockey, it’s a religion there, but I never played, now I do and it rocks!”

Jeff loves the Valley because of the fantastic community feel, and the fact that it has everything you want. He believes The Flower Cart Group would not be nearly as successful as it is today without the support of Valley communities and Jeff looks forward to many more years of growth and success. For now he is staying focused on getting their new facility completed and growing their social enterprises. That should take him a few years, and after that, who knows. Jeff is the first chair of the New Minas Business Association and he suspects that will be his next major project: growing the association and helping business owners have a coordinated voice in the Village of New Minas. All I can say is, with Jeff at the helm, it is bound to be a great success. All the best Jeff Kelly!

If you have questions for Jeff, it’s as easy as an email (jeffkelly@flowercart.ca) or phone call (902-681-4541).