All Stories

Why We Give: Sonia and Jeff Hobbs

Sonia and Jeff Hobbs both work in software and tech where, Jeff says, “a misplaced comma or period can crash a whole program."    

So, when it comes to their more leisurely science activities like cooking, gardening and viticulture, they choose to let loose a bit and experiment.

"We don’t follow recipes,” Jeff says. “But we do follow rules."

For Jeff, the primary cook, chemistry provides the basics. He pays attention to reactions among ingredients, like the zest of a lemon, or the unctuousness of oil, or why tomatoes should never be cooked in a copper pot.

For Sonia, the primary gardener, her rules are agricultural in nature. She pays attention to where food comes from and how it grows, looking at things like companion planting and soil acidity.

In their backyard garden near Commercial Drive, she's planted Japanese greens, peppercorn and wasabi. They do well in Vancouver's comparable climate. “The challenge of trying something different is always fun," she says.

Together, Sonia and Jeff approach gardening and cooking as they would a science experiment: with a deep curiosity and sense of adventure.

It’s an approach they like to take in their personal and professional lives as well, and are happy when the two can blend. As donors to Science World in different capacities, they also spend social time under the dome, attending events like Science of Cocktails and renting venues to host corporate functions.

"We had our wedding reception at Science World," Sonia says, reflecting on their big day that took place in Eureka! Gallery. “People tell us to this day it was one of the most memorable parties they'd ever been to."

Eureka! Gallery is one of the couple's favourite places in Vancouver, a place that "adults might miss unless they have kids."

"It's just such a fun space with a beautiful view. The best in the city," Sonia says. The gallery's glass walls face west along False Creek, toward Cambie Bridge, BC Place, and the ocean. Inside, dozens of interactive exhibits emanate light, colour and sound.

“At our wedding reception, every time I looked around, people who didn’t know each other were playing and chatting. The space lends itself to a more interactive and jovial experience for everyone.”

Jeff recalls, laughing, "Science World asked us if we wanted to turn off the volume on the exhibits. I was like, 'Absolutely not. This is why we're here.'"

A Family Affair

As Vice President, Business Development and Strategy of Safe Software, Sonia oversees the tech company’s community initiatives, including the sponsorship of Science World’s annual Girls and STEAM, our day-long symposium and showcase connecting 300 girls between the ages of 11-13 to STEAM mentors across the Lower Mainland.

“Science World does so much good in helping women in tech and young people in tech and getting them excited and inspired by science, it's just such an easy thing to support," she says.

Almost 20 years ago, before he became Director of Engineering at open-software company SUSE, Jeff first visited Science World on a rainy day with his daughter Carina.

They were drawn to the water exhibit, and he remembers placing the small waterproof apron around his two-year-old and watching her splash. Today, she is 21 and studying Chemistry at a university in the UK.  

“Whenever Carina comes home," Jeff says, "a visit to Science World is on the agenda."

Jeff became a donor to Science World 15 years ago through our Equity Giving program, another easy decision: "Having made my own career in STEM, I chose something close to home."

Their youngest daughter Lily participated in this year's Robotics Club at Science World, and last year a niece attended Science World's summer camp. “Science World is for everyone," Sonia says.

Since the closure of the dome, the Hobbs family have been together at home, adapting to transitioning their academic and professional lives online, from a single homework assignment to an entire tech conference.

For Jeff, the pandemic has been a reminder of how important science is, "and how science is going to solve the problem either through vaccinations or treatment."

Sonia reflects that growing up on Vancouver Island in a blue-collar family helped her see how non-profits like Science World “do so much good within the community,” support people with otherwise inaccessible programs like computer coding.

Sonia's parents were farmers and, as a child, she observed their harvests unfold according to rules around companion planting and growing seasons.

Sonia says, "When I realized that science was at the base of everything, I understood how important it is…And everyone having access to science programming, that's a great equalizer, right?”    

Science is Essential.

Science World serves the future generations of scientists and science enthusiasts. The solutions to the biggest challenges we face will come from science. Become a donor today and help us continue our mission to increase science literacy across BC for everyone.