Hodge: Gifts of kindness and generosity overwhelming

I am blessed for hearing or seeing kind, caring actions by others making the world a brighter, happier, safer place to be.

People may get tired of me saying it, but I never get tired of recognizing I have a blessed life.

I say that largely because of the multitude of good, kind people I have had the pleasure of knowing. Some for most of my life, others but for fleeting moments.

I am blessed for hearing or seeing kind, caring actions by others making the world a brighter, happier, safer place to be.

Literally hundreds of times in my younger life, friends, casual acquaintances and sometimes total strangers simply showed up at the right moment and did or said something meaningful that meant a lot. Sometimes it was a small gesture or kind word, other times it was life-saving or life-altering actions.

Regardless, all those amazing and kind folks inspired my writing the first Charlie’s Christmas Angels List. I invited a few newsroom staff to submit some names and the annual tradition was begun.

The next year, readers began submitting names and have continued to do so for more than 25 years of writing. What fun.

Angels are simply folks who have gone above and beyond to assist or others.

Resident reader Jackie Prokop writes: “I had a stroke five years ago at 53 and since then have met the most amazing people who deserve recognition. First my husband Tom Prokop who has done absolutely everything for me that you can imagine…and he does it with a great sense of humor and love. Also Lucy, Jennifer and De-Anna who ran the first ‘Living With Stroke’ workshop in Kelowna, it was a turning point in my life after the stroke.

“Teena Gowdy who is helping me with my balance and confidence through Zumba. And Carol and Don McKay, who were there for us at the beginning and now come packing Dominos.”

Dawna Mulock (aka Baba) says Bobby-Jo Brown, Merle and Gabby Pruden are special to her. “These angels bring me dinners, take me on yearly vacations, and include me in all their family occasions. I am never lonely because of these angels. My grandchildren Daisy Miles and Gabby Pruden are also my angels as they never forget to include me in their activities and introduce me to all. Tracy Cuttingham is another angel. She is a neighbour that is always available to assist me and my family. Thank you angels.”

Just to make sure the record eight-year-old young Gabriella wanted folks to know how she feels. “I have three angels: My dad Merle Pruden, who always keeps me safe, my mom Bobby-Jo Brown who always has my back, and my Baba who is there to keep me safe when my mom and dad are away.”

Curtis Tulman, of Willow Park Church fame and a renowned Canadian musician, says he holds Eva Wiebe in his highest regard. “Eva is an amazing volunteer at our church, who organizes and co-ordinates every aspect of Living Nativity— everything from finding animals for the petting zoo to writing, directing and choreographing the stage production. She also organizes all the other large events during the year. Did I mention she’s a volunteer?”

Fred Froes found his angels in Sophia and Henry Dalba.“This past summer I was fueling my vehicle at the Guisachan Chevron just before driving to Vancouver. My iPhone rang, my daughter was calling. I stupidly answered the phone fumbling with too many things in my hands and I did not realize that my wallet was missing—until I wanted to re-fuel in West Van.

“I had put my wallet with credit cards and ID, etc. on top of my vehicle or on the bumper.

Henry and Sophia found the wallet spread on Guisachan roadside. They saw my ID and home address and phone number and were able to contact me with the happy news.

“And the best of the whole package? Nothing was missing. It was returned to me when I got home to Kelowna a few days later. Thank you again Sophia and Henry.  Merry Christmas!”

My favourite full-time angel, Teresa, has provided her special list of caring folks.

Tez’s list begins with lifelong friend Marlene Lang, who is “always there when you need a shoulder or a laugh. She always cares about others and takes the time.”

Josh and Lindsay Stilborn make her list for “their never ending kindness, caring, and giving.” Carrie, the postal lady, “for always smiling and having a friendly word to say.”

Teresa also adds the names of two fine young men we have come to know the past six months—Dexter Allen and Alek Dymala-Dolesky “who are always positive no matter what happens, and are always willing to lend a hand.”

On a personal note, aside from Tez my lead angel is brother by choice Curtis Tulman. Words cannot do justice. Every day Curtis makes this world a brighter place to be. We are blessed brothers.

My life and this community are stuffed full of other amazing angels including Keith ‘Papa’ Thom, Gary Smyth, Dave Handyman, John Adams, Ziggy, Peter and Joyce Comrie, Bernie and Bertina, Jim LeGuilloux, Sharon and Mike Shepherd, Randy Zahara, Dan and Louise McGauley, Kamel Abougoush, Paul Beaupre, Jim Krahn, the inspirational Sean Connor, and Chris Olson-Brown and last but not least Dr. Graeme McCaulley and Alice Jeffries at the Kelowna Respiratory Clinic.

And in closing, long time Kelowna resident Jim Melville emailed his list in at the last minute.

“I vote for you, Charlie Hodge (with honourable mention to the Internet). Living in the prairie tundra I go to the Capital News website every week to read your offerings, remember my youth and the first time we met at Camp Owaissi (with your brother Vic as my cabin boss), in 1966 moving from Penticton to Kelowna a block (cross country) from your Knox Crescent house, and all the growing up adventures.

“Thank you for that, I am guaranteed at least one smile a week. Keep it up through 2016 and I am looking forward to a visit complete with a cold one or two the next time I am in town.”

Wow, how nice and I accept the threat of a cold one dear friend.

And a Merry Christmas to all.


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