This article is from the March 2015 Issue of Forever Young

 2015 march tollercranston

Ice Show, 1976

…might have surprised younger Canadians for whom this flamboyant performer was best known by a recitation of his titles – seven times Canadian men’s singles champion, Olympic and world bronze medallist.

But among former champions, there is no doubt Cranston stood alone in the pantheon as a man of aching artistry, of fierce individualism. The biographies and obituaries have adequately covered the elements of his life milestones but beyond that, for those who knew him closely, there was profound mourning for loss of a one-of-a-kind friend.

Regular FYI contributor Barbara Kingstone has never been a huge figure skating authority and only got to know Cranston a decade after his amateur skating career ended in 1976. She writes:

“I met Toller when I was writing fashion for the Globe. I thought his costumes were fabulous. This was in the eighties and we continued what turned into a great friendship to the point that we travelled together to Halifax and to New York City when he turned on the Xmas tree lights at Rockefeller Center. We had caviar after at a famed restaurant. He was always loved the grand lifestyle. And there was more fun and frenzy at his parties.

“Toller and I were very close and when he moved to San Miguel (de Allende, Mexico, a haven for Canadian artists), I visited him there for 10 days. He was exotic, extravagant, witty, mad as a hatter on some days, and went on wild shopping sprees buying everything in sight.

“Once he made me a judge at the Cricket Club at a skating competition, something I knew nothing about, and felt it was unfair to the skaters. But Toller insisted. Nobody could say no to a charming Toller.  I was grateful to have him as a friend.”

Among the eulogies in the media, one from Steve Milton of the Hamilton Spectator was particularly evocative.

Here is Milton’s tribute, in part:

We often said of Toller Cranston that he was a puree of creativity and sport, blending figure skating with art.

But, in hindsight, we were selling him short; Toller Cranston transcended both figure skating and art.

He excelled at both, but was owned by neither. Cranston, born in Hamilton, but raised in Kirkland Lake and Montreal, was a seven-time national figure skating champion, Olympic and world bronze medallist.

He was painter of some 70,000 canvases, which sold well around the world, the pilot light of creative inspiration to three - and counting - generations of figure skaters.

A true outlier. And now he is dead, the body which he once pelted with drugs, surrendering at the age of 65 sometime Friday night in Mexico, far too soon for his rascally spirit which had vowed to never yield.

Cranston never won the big championships, Worlds or Olympics, but he won the legacy race by a mile.

There may have been seven world and Olympic men’s champions during the 1970s, but the one who wasn’t crowned will always have the most enduring impact on the sport.

That impact survived a hard-fought, almost lifelong battle, during which he suffered from depression and, for years, substance abuse, was scorned by the sport’s European-based establishment, and was hijacked by the coldly prejudiced as the human symbol of “effete” skating.

But he touched something deep inside figure skating and its legion of devotees. He awakened a sleeping connection reaching back a full century to Jackson Haines, the inventor of “fancy skating,” who was scorned in his native U.S. and idolized in artistically modern Vienna.

Cranston, though frustrated, saddened and habitually angered, never wavered in what he thought was right for his sport. And by the end, wielding his avant-garde skating like a hammer, he built a safe place in men’s skating for innovative artistry.

This article is from the February 2015 Issue of Forever Young

 feb2015 golftournament

Keeping the “fun” in fundraising in the North Okanagan during last year’s charity golf tournament.

by Glenna Turnbull

From golfing to galas, the citizens of the North Okanagan are doing all they can to keep the “fun” in fundraising in hopes of opening the top two floors of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital by this time next year.

Sue Beaudry, Director of Development for the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation said they’ve had two major projects on the go – one of which was for purchasing a digital mammography machine. “We raised about $500,000 thanks to a whole lot of commitment from different groups and individuals,” she said, and as such that two-year campaign was completed in only 18 month.

Generosity came in many forms. A $50,000 donation came in from the Coldstream Women’s Institute who had recently sold their property. Through the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation BC/Yukon, the Wine, Women and Woods golf tournament played a large part in helping VJH Foundation achieve its goal early, bringing in over $200,000. Because a lot of the organizing committee members are down south for the winter (“golfing,” no doubt, joked Beaudry), the official opening of the mammography clinic won’t be until April after they’ve returned. “That’s been such a wonderful good news story for our community,” she said.

As for the second big project, that involves raising $2.5 million to open the last remaining section of the new Polson Tower at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. “When they built the tower, (completed in September 2011) the top two floors were shelled in,” said Beaudry, and now it’s time to finish the job.

Because residents of the North Okanagan have already raised nearly $7 million since the Polson Tower project began, Beaudry noted, “This is a project the community has invested heavily in. The five floors that are open have been amazing and people are so pleased with the improvement to local healthcare. We launched phase II of this campaign in November 2013 and the Foundation is pleased to announce that the campaign is nearing the $2 million level. We hope to complete this campaign in the fall”

Fundraising events continue to raise awareness and dollars for completing this project. The Vernon Jubilee Hospital Charity Classic Golf Tournament has netted over $750,000 since its inception. VJH Foundation and sponsors TELUS and Predator Ridge will be hosting, their next big fundraising tournament May 24 at Predator Ridge. “Also, the Junior Chamber International Vernon are planning an ‘Evening in Paris’ gala for April 18,” said Beaudry, adding, “We’re very lucky to have so much of the community involved in so many different ways.”

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.