Hodge: Angels who live in our community

Here are some of your nominations for Charlie's Christmas Angels list.

To keep my name off the ‘naughty’ list, perhaps I should hang out with a bunch of the people listed below, those selected by others as this year’s angels. Certainly that wouldn’t hurt my Santa status.

There are many musicians in the Kelowna area who qualify as angels for their kind actions on a regular basis. Two of them are busy with music projects that may just help you get into the Christmas spirit or provide an opportunity to find a unique Christmas gift.

Randall Robinson and Pat Brown—talented members of the popular band Ten2Nine—have written a spell-binding rock musical called the Raft of the Medusa, which will premier in the summer. You can purchase either tickets or a “survival package” for the show by going to raftofthemedussamusical.com.

The survival package includes a hand-crafted basket, a bottle of wine and glasses, chocolates, other edible goodies and, of course, tickets. In other words, everything you would need if stranded on a raft in the ocean, said Robinson with a smile.

The second event is this weekend involving Brad Krauza and his superb band Linus, which is holding a Christmas CD release fundraiser Friday and Saturday at Fleetwood’s (formerly known as 97th Street Pub). Brad and crew are performing both nights along with guest star Darby Mills and will be featuring songs from the Miracle on 97th Street CD just recently recorded and involving several local bands.

Meanwhile, I received a number of emails and calls regarding nominations for the annual Charlie’s Christmas Angels List. Here are a bunch of them, with more, including my list, coming up after Christmas.

Audrey Cranston nominates Lorraine Richmond, because of the role she plays in helping other people. “She has held three events in the past year including a “cash mob” last year, a fundraiser for a woman who needed back surgery and just recently for Kate,” writes Cranston. “There are probably more events she’s run because that is how caring she is.”

Randy Zahara names Shelley Vida. “Though Shelly has had a bit of bad luck recently, she still remains incredibly positive about the performing arts in Kelowna and is dedicated to continue the great work she has done in promoting live entertainment and supporting musical artists from Kelowna and around the country.”

Zahara has another special angel.

“I met Michelle Bonneau when she was the executive director of the Kelowna Family Centre. She has dedicated the last eight years of her life to starting a non-profit called the Intercultural Women’s Education Network. She sold her condo to fund the organization and moved to Nepal to begin buying young girls from ages eight to 12 out of indentured servitude, (basically slavery). She’s put them into schools and made sure they are taken care of so they might become leaders in their community some day. IWEN has helped more than 200 girls in the last few years and Michelle has built a school as well. She’s an amazingly selfless person who I am honoured to call my friend.” For more go to http://iwencanada.com/.

Freyja Jensen nominates Michael Lavigne of Open for Change in Kelowna, “because he’s making a difference starting with our community and reaching beyond. Check him out on Facebook, Linked In and YouTube and join us on the ride!”

Brian Lyall nominates Tanya Bakala for angel status.

“She goes above and beyond with her work with students at the Mission Dance Centre. Her mentoring of students goes beyond dance to help kids with their personal lives when they don’t talk to their parents about life issues. Her drive to produce shows and help with fundraising events and performances at public schools and senior’s facilities promotes her art and her school yet enriches the community. Her passion for the arts and her students is unlimited and changes lives because of the respect her students have for her.”

Superb guitarist and one of my top angels, Gary Smyth, sent me his nominee.

“Noreen Branson is an actual angel as she left us this past year. Noreen seemed to love everybody and was never shy about saying it or showing it to the point that the recipient was embarrassed yet suddenly having a better day. She never forgot a friend, and if you met her once, you never forgot her. She seemed to have much less to give than most of us, yet she gave more than most of us.”

Michelle Rule writes, “I am surrounded by angels, but want to tell you about my Secret Santa. Every day since Dec. 1, a package has mysteriously appeared at my door. All kinds of lovely gifts—books, treats, fruit and more. I have no idea who is behind this, it could be an individual or a group. Of course, no one is saying. A big thank-you to my Secret Santa, an anonymous angel who is lifting my spirits during a difficult time.”

Lois Beischer nominates Ailsa Beischer as a fruit-sharing angel. “Ailsa is the co-ordinator of the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project and she gathers volunteers to pick fruit and veggies that would otherwise go to waste. These are then donated to more than 30 charities in our community.

“This past season, Ailsa coordinated picks that lead to over 37,000 pounds of produce being donated. Ailsa is also a UBCO student working on her master’s degree, researching the topic of food justice and security in the Kelowna. Her goal is to complete a community food assessment that will be invaluable to policy makers and service providers such as the Food Bank and CMHA, and to NGOs, like the Central Okanagan Food Policy council.

“This is a young lady who has definitely put effort into her life. Many of her scholarships and awards have based on community service. Quite a busy angel, and all this by the age of 24.”


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