A couple with almost lifelong ties to Penticton and Summerland has made a major donation to Penticton Regional Hospital, supporting the oncology department through the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.
Ross and Evelyn Axworthy were high school sweethearts who raised children in the area and found it an easy choice to donate to the PRH.
Evelyn’s (nee Washington) family settled in the early 1900s in the Summerland community, where her grandfather, Jonathan Thomas Washington, immigrated to Canada from England.
While Ross was born in Saskatchewan and arrived in Summerland as a teenager after moving with his family to several communities through B.C. before. The pair met at Summerland High School in the early 1950s, and they’ve been together ever since.
Their life began when Evelyn started her career in education in Osoyoos and later at Penticton High School, taking a year of education courses. She and Ross married in 1958, and Evelyn took 10 years off to raise their two sons and daughter.
Ross began his career in the Penticton automotive/industrial supply firm, where he started building his business sense.
Evelyn returned to teaching while also gradually working towards her bachelor of education degree from UBC over the next several years. She ended up receiving her diploma at the same time their elder son obtained his bachelor of science degree at UBC in 1984 and went on to obtain a master’s degree from Simon Fraser University in 1984.
“It took me a long time, but it can be done,” Evelyn said in a press release. “It was very satisfying and underscored the pleasure of watching each of our children progress steadily to their degrees.”
Evelyn spent most of her career at Columbia Elementary, where she remained until her retirement in 2001.
“That was a really great pleasure. During that time I taught just about every grade that was there and finished with 10 years as vice-principal,” she said. “It was a great school, and we had some wonderful teachers there.”
Ross continued moving forward in his career with the Junior Chamber of Commerce and eventually became its president who also sat on the Penticton Chamber of Commerce board. By the mid-1970s, Ross was hired as the chamber’s general manager, a position he held for the next 12 years.
“That was a very rewarding part of my life with all sorts of involvement in the community,” he said.
One of those connections was helping form Penticton’s sister city ties with Ikeda, Japan. Ross chaired the Penticton-Ikeda Sister City Society for 30 years with an official sister city agreement signed in Japan in 1977.
A continuation of this partnership has been featured in an ongoing series of cultural, business and educational exchanges, with the most notable local landmark seen at the Japanese Garden next to Penticton Art Gallery.
Throughout their lives, PRH has been the site of joy, where their children were all born at the hospital. The couple has had a couple of major health issues too, with Ross suffering a stroke in 2005 but luckily taken directly to the emergency department in less than 30 minutes and received a special drug to clear a blockage of his carotid artery.
“I went from being completely paralyzed on my right side and within an hour or so, I was back to normal. I was very fortunate,” he said.
Evelyn also suffered a stroke in 2013 and has fully recovered. Now in their 80s, the Axworthys praise the hospital and its staff.
“The nurses and doctors … all the staff are just amazing. We’re so impressed with them,” Ross said. “We’re happy to donate to the hospital, which is such an essential part of the community.”
The Kelowna and Lake Country community raised a record-breaking $929,000 for The Salvation Army through its 2020 Christmas fundraiser, exceeding its target of $700,000.
“We are so blessed to live in a community that cares for one another and that strives to Give Hope, especially in challenging times,” said Captain Darryl Burry, lead pastor and executive director of the Kelowna-Lake Country Salvation Army.
Burry says 2020 was a hard year with financial struggle; the Salvation Army experienced a 61% increase in demand over the previous year.
In December 2020, support was shared with 659 local households, a 25% increase over 2019. The organization was also able to provide 1,150 children with toys for Christmas.
“We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all who made this campaign a success, and adapted to all of our new COVID safety measures,” Burry said.
Although the Christmas season is over, The Salvation Army says there is still work to be done. To learn more about how you can help, click here.
The 2021 Choices Lottery is up and running, and two of the grand prizes this year are homes in Vernon and in Okanagan Falls.
The Choices Lottery supports the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the money raised goes to funding research that leads to innovative discoveries and treatments.
There are seven luxury home packages up for grabs or $2.2 million in tax-free cash.
The Vernon home is located at 32-1000 Mt. Robson Way. It features three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a double garage, 2,229 square feet and views of Kalamalka Lake. The package also includes a 2021 Class A Southwind 35K Motorhome, a 2021 BMW SUV and $1.4 million in cash.
The Okanagan Falls address is 15-125 Cabernet Dr. in Vintage Views at Heritage Hills. It has 4,400 square feet with six bedrooms and four bathrooms, and it has views of Skaha Lake. The package also comes with $40,000 cash for furniture, a 2020 Monterey M22 deck boat, a 2021 Toyota Tundra double cab TRD off-road package, a 2021 Audi A7 Sportback Technik Quattro and $1 million in cash.
Tickets for the Choices Lottery can be purchased here.
With a new facility in place, the old Howard House building is no longer needed.
Crews have started demolishing the 1970s-era building to make way for a new facility.
Howard House was decommissioned after Our Place was completed in the spring of 2019. Our Place is a 46-bed shelter for people in need of a place to spend the night.
Our Place was built adjacent to the Howard House building, and the land currently occupied by the aged building will soon house a 52-unit supportive housing apartment complex similar to My Place, which was also completed in 2019.
Supports at My Place include employment, addiction and mental health programs, and staff.
Randene Wejr, with the Turning Points Collaborative Society that operates the facilities, said ground breaking on the new apartment complex is planned for the spring.
“It served its purpose for so many years,” Wejr said of the old, grey building. “At this point it had out lived its usability.”
Wejr said the plan is to start construction on the new apartment building in the spring.
“And if all goes well, we should be open late this year,” Wejr said.
Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers is celebrating this month as it closes in on nearly 3,000 arrests over the last 34 years.
January is Crime Stoppers Month, and the local chapter has released how much crime is has gotten off the streets during its existence. It has received 29,620 tips that has led to 2,945 arrests. There have been 759 charges laid and 3,913 cases cleared thanks to the organization that works with citizens, RCMP and local media to fight crime in the region.
“We combat crime with key participation from engaged community members who can anonymously report tips that our team passes along to RCMP and other law enforcement agencies,” Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers co-ordinator Gerry Guiltenane said in a press release. “It is because of this community-based crime solving action that our citizens are helping the police to help keep the Central Okanagan a safe place to live.”
Crime Stoppers’ work in the Central Okanagan has led to $5.1 million in stolen property recovered and $88.6 million in illegal drugs taken off the street.
The local chapter will celebrate next month as well, as it will turn 34 years old on Feb. 23.
With the help of the Rotary Club, Lake Country Food Bank was able to purchase a new food dehydrator that will increase the shelf life of perishable donations it receives.
Lake Country Food Bank manager Joy Haxton said the machine is not just for them, and they want to invite members and community organizations to use it as an educational tool through workshops.
The team at the food bank picks up donations from local grocery stores, restaurants and even orchards six days a week. But often, Haxton says they receive the food at its ripest.
“What we wanted to do is to see if we could still keep that food so we were able to purchase this incredible dehydrator.”
She says they’ve had a chance to play around with the machine and are slowly mastering it.
In the lower level of Lake Country Food Bank, the volunteer-based team sorts through the perishable food it receives daily. Food that isn’t fit for human consumption either goes to animals or compost.
Haxton explains they have learned the different dietary needs for the animals to ensure it is safe to send to certain farms. For example, chickens can’t ingest nightshades, so no peppers or potatoes. Other items like bags and twist ties are also sorted out.
Due to COVID, the number of volunteers fell from 65 to 25, which impacted the way they pick up donations.
“We had fourteen drivers, but the average age was seventy-four. We can’t send those folks into the grocery stores. It wasn’t safe any longer. We now have a driver, who’s full-time. Stu is our baby at 50,” Haxton said.
A fun fact about Lake Country Food Bank is it doesn’t have a garbage bin, as it recovers 95% of donated items. The remaining 5% that’s thrown out is typically due to contamination, such as salmonella.
With one day left and less than $6,000 away from their $100,000 goal, Penticton’s Discovery House is very close to being able to move forward with its next project thanks to the Shed the Light on Addiction campaign.
Its goal is to use the donations to place a down payment on another house for substance-free recovery beds for those suffering from addiction.
“We’ve lost a lot of guys this year to addiction, and we’ve lost seven of our alumni … A lot of the guys here have lost people, lost family members,” Discovery House executive director Jerome Abraham said at the launch for the event.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made this challenging year difficult for many, as there has been an increase in overdoses.
“It’s not just those people. It’s our brothers, sisters, mother, father, that is being lost to this illness,” he said.
The money would go to a new duplex with eight more beds to service the growing need in the community. Tax receipts for 2020 are available to donors.
More information on the campaign and donations can be found here.
Like virtually everything else over the last nine months, an annual fundraising art event at UBC Okanagan will be going online in February.
The 19th annual Art on the Line gala and fundraiser will be held virtually on Saturday, Feb. 27. The Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, in association with the Visual Arts Course Union, is conducting the event, which will raise money for student exhibitions, the visiting artist program, opportunities for travel grants and exhibitions as well as the local non-profit Cool Arts Society, which provides art opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.
There will be more than one way to collect a piece of art. One piece is guaranteed with the purchase of the standard $190 ticket, but participants who purchase a $25 ticket could also secure one through an art trivia game. A silent auction will also run throughout the evening.
“For the first time you can enjoy the night with your art-loving friends around the world,” Art on the Line co-ordinator Tiffany Douglas said in a press release. “We are excited about organizing the 2021 event with the challenge of having to re-think and re-invent how it will be presented.
“This will be the 19th annual Art on the Line fundraiser and gala that celebrates the work of local artists where guests can buy some amazing and original artwork by local celebrities and soon-to-be discovered student artists.”
Guests will be encouraged to dress up in 1920’s-style clothing and hairstyles along with sequins and pearls. They can also participate in a pre-gala party in which a local bartender will do a step-by-step walk-through of how to make original prohibition-style cocktails. Guests can also pre-order a meal delivery basket containing a curated wine or beer tasting with local food pairings.
More information about the Art of the Line gala can be found here.
After a Penticton business owner decided to gift a family a generous present for the holidays this year, he started having more people from the community buy presents from his store to give away.
Trevor Sparreboom, the owner of the recently opened retro video game shop Game Cave, gave away a Nintendo Switch Fortnite bundle for a local family in need of a special gift this year.
On Wednesday, Sparreboom posted on Facebook to share the spirit of giving that had spread through the community.
“I just had a customer come into the store and say that he was inspired by my donation of a Nintendo Switch to a family in need, and he wanted to help too! So (Alan, who wanted to otherwise remain anonymous) purchased a refurbished Xbox One S 1TB console and a game from my store today, and then asked me to donate it to a second family in need this Christmas! I was so moved, I wanted to cry,” the post reads.
Then, Sparreboom had a friend in Red Deer offer to purchase another $20 game to add to the Xbox gift.
“A lovely lady (named Carrie) who came into the store and purchased a $25 gift card to donate. I will be adding this to the Switch bundle.”
And he had a former co-worker, who lives in Prince George, message him offering to purchase two new games to add to the Switch bundle. Plus she also wanted to purchase and donate three $40 gift cards to three other deserving families in need.
“I am truly blown away by the amazing generosity of these beautiful people! My heart is bursting with gratitude! I hope these acts of kindness inspire others to do whatever they can to help those in need.”
Sparreboom finished by adding that he does not need any more donations to come through his store but told people to look for any other way to help in your community.
“Sharing is caring!”
Nominations for the families to receive these presents this Christmas were accepted until Friday, and Sparreboom was set to deliver the now two game consoles to two deserving families over the weekend.
Kelowna’s Vantage West Realty has decided to make a difference in Mexico after a record-breaking 2020.
The real estate company sold more homes in 2020 than any other year, so it has donated US$10,000 to fund a 500 square-foot home in Nacajuca, Mexico, using 3D printer technology.
“This is leading-edge technology that will hopefully stop the housing affordability crisis,” Vantage West managing broker and owner A.J. Hazzi said in a press release.
“These families in Mexico are becoming homeowners for the first time; it’s a generational change that can break the cycle of poverty, giving security for themselves and their families.”
Vantage West donated the money to New Story Charity, which was founded 2014 and has helped fund community projects in four countries and has built more than 2,200 homes.
The 3D printer uses a proprietary, cement-based mix called “lavacrete” that exceeds the strength of existing building materials. Once the house foundation has been poured and cured, the 3D printer is set up and begins to extrude layer by layer, building walls in only 24 hours.
“Real estate was one of the most resilient sectors of the local economy in 2020, and we want to give back,” Hazzi said. “After a few scary months, the market rallied and at Vantage West we were able to help more families move into new homes than any other year.”