Ours can be a cruel world.
What follows the cruelty is the stuff that leaves us inspired and believing fully in our fellow human beings.
Jim Hickman worked at the Brewhouse for more than eight years. He was diagnosed with cancer and tried to continue working through the illness. Things looked up when Hickman connected with the BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF).
The foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial support to individuals within the hospitality community who are coping with extraordinary costs arising from a health crisis. On top of that, the foundation also gives scholarships and bursaries to students enrolled in hospitality programs. Through 2012 the foundation gave 21 scholarships worth $35,500 to people who advanced their skills and knowledge last year.
The amount given to industry workers dealing with significant medical issues amounted to more than $40,000 in 2012.
The BCHF granted Hickman $4,000 and that money was used to improve the quality of his life last year. Sadly, Jim Hickman died last month.
His friend and coworker, Laura Pell, says he was very well liked and his friends called him Old Man Winter. According to Pell, he was awesome and super friendly.
"He liked his lagers. He was kind of a funny guy, eh," Pell says of her friend of six years with a laugh that makes it clear she knew him really well. "His life goal was to go find a Sasquatch and he was a strong believer in aliens.
"He changed so many lives here. For me personally, he made me realize how important it is to be proud of who I am and not care about what people think," she says after her Sunday shift at the Brewhouse
Hickman worked as a prep cook and according to Pell, everything Hickman cooked he classified as world famous.
With the profile of the BCHF recently increased in Whistler the organization is preparing for a fundraising event at the Brewhouse on Feb. 25. The event will be a Martini night with guest bartenders and proceeds going to the BCHF. A DJ will play music and food specials will be featured at the event designed to raise money for the BCHF.
The BCHF holds a number of fundraising initiatives every week. One is known as Tip Out To Help.
The world's largest tip jar is set up at the BCHF website. Donations can be made any time but the BCHF is encouraging hospitality workers to focus donation drives between Thanksgiving and Halloween. More than $120,000 was raised by the BCHF in 2011.
The event this month in Whistler will honour Hickman's memory.
The gathering on Feb. 25 will be an opportunity to raise money to help Whistler hospitality workers in need of help getting through debilitating illnesses in the future. Whistler's generosity will help make the cruel reality of serious illness for hospitality workers a little easier to deal with.