Two things stick out in Ken Henczel’s memory as he was learning to become a carpenter at age 19.
One, the guys he worked with for a North Okanagan firm were mostly Ukrainian, and he called them the hardest working, talented group a guy could ever learn from.
The second thing is the stories they told him about they escaped from Russia.
“The guys said they would get their families together and walk all night, then hide during the day,” said Henczel, 72, from Armstrong, retired from the construction industry.
On a recent trip to Calgary to visit family, Henczel and his wife were out for an early morning walk when they bumped into a couple and began a conversation. Noting an accent, Henczel asked where they were from and the man told him “From Ukraine. Our daughter helped get us out of the country.”
With memories and chance encounters in mind, Henczel put his construction knowledge to use. Given his love of hockey and automobiles, and feeling helpless about the situation in the Ukraine (invaded by Russia), Henczel has created the Hot Rod Hockey Bench.
It’s a fundraiser for the Ukraine Refugee Fund as well as the Armstrong Food Bank.
The bench has chrome wheels, casters on the bottom so it can be moved easily, Ukrainian and Canadian flags, a huge exhaust pipe, hockey pucks, goalie sticks, goalie masks, goalie pads, a red light (not a goalie’s best friend) and an alarm bell.
“I just think this will be cool if some hot-rodder or some kid gets it,” said Henczel, whose work of art will be on display in Armstrong at various locations (including during the Car Show Saturday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown). Tickets will be $1.
The draw for the bench will be made on the last day of the Interior Provincial Exhibition, Sunday, Sept. 4. The winner will also get a bag of tools from Makita Tools.
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Food BankfundraiserNorth Okanagan Regional DistrictUkraine