The Meet Your New Neighbors feature is written by Jane McKinley
As co-owners of property in the historic district and supporting their daughter and son-in-law’s new store, VOIAJER gift shop, Australians Narelle and Paul Kelvin are deeply invested in Cape Charles. The shop is located on Mason Avenue in the new storefront/condo building (commonly known as the Patrick Hand building) and the house is located on a lot at the corner of Strawberry Street and Washington Ave. In addition to supporting owners Naomi and David Darg to establish and run the shop, Narelle and Paul are in the process of exploring options for the renovation of the Strawberry Street property.
Their introduction to Cape Charles was initiated when Naomi visited in 2009. When visiting Naomi in 2013, Narelle joined her for a trip to Cape Charles and also fell in love with the town. Paul was introduced in 2015 at which point the couple made the easy decision to begin looking for property in town. They were attracted to Cape Charles because it reminded them of their home town in Australia – quaint and slower pace.
Naomi and David have a home in Willoughby Spit which is currently under renovation and also a retreat outside of Cape Charles on the road to Custis Tomb. In addition to helping with the shop, Paul is using extensive building skills to help David with the Willoughby Spit home renovation. He and Narelle split their time between this house and the one at Custis Tomb but look forward to being able to move into town when their property renovation is complete.
Cape Charles has a way of attracting some interesting people, and this family definitely meets that criteria. Their life stories abound with adventures as missionaries, builders and counsellors in third world countries such as Papua New Guinea, Kazakhstan, the Philippines and China.
Over 42 years ago, Narelle and Paul met when she was taking a “hippy trek” through outback Queensland, Australia. Narelle became a Christian, then met and married Paul not long after that. While raising their own 3 daughters back on the coast of Queensland, the couple provided foster care and shelter to over 30 children and misguided teenagers.
Years later the couple attended bible-college near Sydney and on completion, their first placement was in Papua New Guinea where crime and desperation were rampant. Their next assignment was Kazakhstan around the time of Sept 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. They were building a women’s refuge where they provided training and support to women recently released from prison.
Following an extended illness, after working and settling back in Australia, Narelle accomplished her personal goal in 2015 of completing a spiritual journey, walking 500 miles on the Camino De Santiago (The Way of St James) through France and Spain with Paul. They hope to do it again in the near future – maybe with a group from Cape Charles! In the meantime, keep an eye out for Narelle’s upcoming book which provides an account of her and Paul’s life travels.
Consider a visit to the shop to see the variety of handmade items from fair-trade groups around the world. These items provide a sustainable wage for the artists who create them and will certainly put a smile on your face.