This article is from the January 2015 Issue of Forever Young

 2015 Jan Hidden Beach

If you think you’re done with Mexico, think again – and prepare to see, do, eat and learn things you’ve likely never imagined!

by AJ Williams

Mexico’s newest resort area, this state is located north of Jalisco (where you’ll find Puerto Vallarta), and while the two areas may share an airport, there’s a unique world awaiting you when you venture north of PV.

This area hugs a spectacular area of Mexico’s Pacific coastline, and there’s very little on or near the water you couldn’t do there!

Spend a day in Sayulita, a quaint town with shops & a magical square that comes alive each evening. During the daytime, however, it’s all about surfing! Have lunch at Don Pedros on the beach – the shrimp tacos are heavenly! Every level of surfing is there, and lessons are easy to find on the beach. Hippy-dippy surfers (or wannabes) rejoice! Sayulita even has live music on the beach – it’s unspoiled and special.

Want to dial back even more, San Francisco (San Pancho to the locals) is nearby too. An almost spiritual place, filled with solitude and reflection, you’ll find accommodations that are more modest & less expensive than the resort areas, but quaint, clean and all about the warm hospitality of the people who call this place home. Here it’s all about organic, sustainable, and really making a difference in the world. Stay at the Hotel Cielo Rojo, a fabulous little boutique hotel on a cobblestoned street where they offer local olive oil and cheeses, a house-brand Tequila, and local honey.

This article is from the December 2014 Issue of Forever Young

 2014-December-AngelaForSallyAnnStory

Angela Stadnyk went from client to store manager thanks to the Salvation Army’s Breakthrough program.
Glenna Turnbull Photo

By Glenna Turnbull

“I found myself in a situation where I had to leave,” said Angela Stadnyk, recalling a not too long ago time in her past, “…and next thing I knew, I was in the line up at the food bank and applying for a hamper from Salvation Army. It was very humbling.”

Suddenly finding herself a single mother with two children and out of work, she credits the Salvation Army’s Breakthrough program for helping her find the rainbow at the end of the storm. “I’m actually grateful for what I’ve been through because it’s given me a different view on the world,” said Stadnyk, who has come full circle and is now an employee of the Salvation Army, managing one of their thrift shops.

“Their single mother group was life changing for me,” she said, of the yearlong Breakthrough program. “There were so many things that had been suppressed inside of me, being with someone who was abusive. Without (the Salvation Army) and that program, everything might still be locked inside me...I learned what I was capable of.”

The Breakthrough program for single mothers is only one of the programs offered by Salvation Army to help people live better and Angela is only one of countless success stories. Lt. Darryl Burry, the Lead Pastor and Executive Director of the Salvation Army’s Kelowna Community Church, said they offer several programs, including their Wednesday senior drop in, where those 55 and over are welcome to stop in and play board games in the morning. “There’s a soup and sandwich lunch for $3 and a program after that as well.”

“Our Smart Program School of Music, Art and Technology is a free program for kids age seven to 12, where they could out toe the church weekly for free lessons in drama, guitar, art, ukulele, drumming and more. These are things we offer to the community,” he said.

Add to that the Family Empowerment program for those with a family member who suffers mental illness or drug abuse problems, their work in the emergency and disaster service area, Camp Sunrise, their Christmas hamper program and the thrift stores they operate and you can see the arm of the Army stretches very far into the community.

Starting November 20th, it’s time for the rest of us to stretch our arms a little farther too, and hopefully reach out to deposit some money into those familiar red kettles of the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle campaign. This year marks the 124th annual Salvation Army Kettle Campaign in Canada and it is the primary source of funding for the programs they offer.

“We have 22 kettles set up around town every Monday through Saturday from now until Christmas, all manned by volunteers,” said Burry, and this year’s goal is $625,000.

In 2013, the Central Okanagan Salvation Army provided assistance to over 3800 people in nearly 2000 different households.

In the Vernon area, David MacBain, Community Ministries Director, said they will have 12 kettles out and are really hoping to find more volunteers to help man them. Their fundraising goal is $160,000.

In addition to the 800 or so Christmas hampers they’ll be handing out, MacBain said they also offer programs. “We have a moms and tots program for parents with children six to 24 months old where we offer milk, eggs, cheese and baby supplies as we have available. It’s also a great chance for moms to mix and mingle with each other and there is someone from Interior Health there offering advice to young parents.”

This article is from the November 2014 Issue of Forever Young

 2014-Nov-HotChocChristmas

 Valley First staff serve hot chocolate to clients of the Kelowna Community Food Bank during Christmas hamper distribution.

Looking into this family’s cupboard, it looked well stocked. But if you were to pick up one of the boxes, you’d discover it was actually empty.

By Glenna Turnbull

When it comes to helping end hunger in the Okanagan, Valley First’s Feed the Valley program is helping all sorts of people – some you’d never realize even needed help.

“We had a mother coming in and with two children,” recalled Lenetta Parry, executive director of the Kelowna and Westside Food Bank,” and they had no food.”

The woman was too afraid to tell her husband their meals were coming from the food bank, Parry said, “She told me she actually kept empty boxes in the cupboard so friends and family wouldn’t know they were in such need.”

Last year, more than 94,000 people were assisted in British Columbia by food banks. At least 27,000 of those were children and Parry noted, there is an ever increasing number of seniors requiring help as well, with their fixed incomes just not keeping up with inflation. Other clients include students trying to survive on student loans, working families that just can’t get ahead and singles struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Thankfully, here in the Okanagan, our local food banks have a community partner supporting them in Valley First with their Feed the Valley program.

“People who come to the food bank are often going through life’s greatest challenges,” said Parry, “and many of us are just two pay cheques away from needing the food bank.”

Feed the Valley is a community investment program that was designed by the Valley First team back in March 2010. “It was looked at from a perspective of going into the communities we serve and trying to understand the social issues affecting them. The one thing that kept coming up over and over again was hunger,” said Susan Byrom, Community Investment Manager for Valley First.

This article is from the October 2014 Issue of Forever Young

 FYng Oct 2014 monks

 

Travel has been a lifelong passion of mine and several years ago I established a travel bucket list led by Vietnam!

By Claudia Viani

At long last, I was fortunate to travel to Vietnam. Our journey proved to be everything I expected and more. I discovered and enjoyed an amazing country, people and cuisine.

After a long but comfortable flight via Seoul, we started our 2 week trek in Hanoi.  Now the modern day capital of North Vietnam, it still maintains the mystery and charm of past centuries.   There we visited highlights such as the American War Museum, and Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh including the gardens of his former residence. We also viewed his simple 2 room Stilt House situated within a peaceful park like setting, including a serene lake well stocked with the largest Koi I have ever seen.

Hanoi exudes an air of elegance comprising of charming public spaces, lakes and tree lined boulevards.  Their famous Dong Xuan Market provides street after street of merchants that sell everything from food, to herbal medicines, hardware, household items, clothing and more. Since most of the merchants live in the back or upper floors of their shops, life simply happens before you (as people visit, drink tea, watch the world go by and someone is always cooking).

Vietnam is actually a haven for shopping lovers and specifically market fans.  Street markets are inherent to the Vietnamese culture and lifestyle of the country where one can buy almost anything.  What to buy?  Pearls, local lacquered handicrafts, silk clothing (have something made especially for you), local art and paintings (check out the Golden Fish Gallery in Hoi An Old Town… www.titingallery.com), traditional Vietnamese hats and lanterns.

Not long after our arrival my very first local culinary experience was Pho. It was prepared and served at our hotel along with North American and continental style fare at breakfast.  I was hooked at first bite, and thus began the culinary part of my adventure.   Later that morning during our visit to the Yen Phu flower market I also discovered the exotic and delicious jack fruit!  From there I made it my mission to try and enjoy at least one new dish every day, which turned out to be a very easy goal to accomplish.

I must clarify… I have enjoyed Vietnamese food for years, and there is nothing like eating it in-country.  In Hanoi we enjoyed lunch at a unique local restaurant called KOTO. KOTO stands for “Know One, Teach One”: learning should be passed on. Knowledge is there to be shared.  KOTO was created by a Vietnamese-Australian in Hanoi over 10 years ago with the opening of a training centre in hospitality. The sole purpose of providing disadvantaged youth the possibility to learn towards a better life.  Today they run two restaurants (including “Pots & Pans” where we enjoyed yet another amazing dining experience), an online bakery, cooking classes and a catering service.

Here are just a few of their delicious and unforgettable menu items:  Chicken Wrapped in Pandan Leaves; Prawn on Sugar Cane (one of Vietnam’s popular dishes), Non Du Du – Green Papaya Salad with Roasted Beef.  I discovered Vietnamese Cuisine consists of fresh ingredients with unique combinations of herbs, and when mixed together create an exotic yet light Asian cuisine.

This article is from the September 2014 Issue of Forever Young

 2014-Sept-Church

 The Church of San Michelle is one of many inside Lucca’s walls.

This year we decided to try something different. We have been to Provence half a dozen times, and loved it, but there is a big world out there, and it was time to see something new.

By Steve Tuck. Photography by Terry Tuck

We decided upon Tuscany, not only because it is very much like Provence, but because of the cultural aspects --- after all, Florence is truly the centre of Renaissance Civilisation. Searching out various “special” places to visit, we happened upon an article in the Globe and Mail’s Saturday Travel section that advised one to “skip Pisa and go to Lucca”! Well, it wasn’t only trying to get travelers out of the chock-a-block full of sightseers usual haunts, but also turned out to be very sage advice. For instance, Lucca is certainly a precious gem, unique in so many ways! (And, in just 22 minutes, you can still drive to Pisa, it’s that close! And, the Leaning Tower and environs are worth seeing, too!)

Lucca is rare as it not only houses many works of art --- as do so many Italian towns, villages and cities --- but its history remains almost perfectly intact. Dating back to Roman times, it remains a typically Roman medieval city, with few major changes over the years. Much of this was due to a rather unique part of its history, namely the building at different periods of FOUR walls around the city! These mighty city walls have been one of the key reasons for Lucca remaining intact and not destroyed by re-development, as has happened in many places. It would not have been easy to destroy these walls, and the citizens love them! Only some parts of the first three walls remain intact, however it is the last built that citizens of Lucca and tourists enjoy the most!

The last wall extends 4200 metres around the city. Built to withstand cannon fire, it is a bulwark of stones (the locals brought cartloads of stone to build) and is wide enough that there are parks, roadways, trees, and a virtual greenspace which is so large that it can be seen as a big green circle surrounding the entire city when flying over! Nowadays one of THE pastimes is to rent a bike and ride around the whole city, giving a great view from a sort of second floor (or higher) level. There were fortifications, including underground vaults for storing munitions; 126 cannons that were in place until 1799 when the Austrians removed them; a ditch around, like a moat; and other means of resisting an attack. The irony of all this was that none was ever used to defend the town from the enemy, but in 1812, the gates were closed to protect the town from the River Serchio as it overflowed its banks. Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Bonaparte Baciochi, who was in charge of this area at the time, had to be levered over the walls by a crane to escape the floods! Nowadays, the parks, gardens, and promenade on top of these ramparts make Lucca very special indeed.