'Small town with a massive heart' in focus for Peachland campaign | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Small town with a massive heart' in focus for Peachland campaign

Get a view of Peachland's backbone with a new Peachland Chamber of Commerce campaign.
July 26, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Matthew Abrey likes to tell a good story.

So, when the recent graduate of BCIT’s journalism program started his summer job at Peachland’s Chamber of Commerce during a time when COVID-19 is causing unprecedented hardship on businesses he knew just what he wanted to do.

He wanted to take a step back and tell the stories of the men and women who make the tourist town of 5,000 special.

“At its base, the goal was to interview everyday people and give a face to these businesses,” Abrey, who grew up in Peachland, said.

“You could Google any of these businesses and find out what they sell and their hours, but that doesn’t mean a lot.”

As any good Peachlander knows, it’s the people behind these businesses that make the community a gem.

“These people have stories to tell — it’s a small town with a massive personality and a massive heart. All these people I’ve interviewed are lovely and have a story to tell, from hardship or just a moment that helped alter the way they live” he said.

They’ve only released two of these stories that are taking a page from the hugely popular Humans of New York, which puts stories to the people in one of the globe’s most iconic cities. But, there’s potentially enough material to run through the spring into the fall.

The response thus far warrants the effort.

“I’ve been blown away by the response,” Abrey said.

“People are writing in and saying, ‘thank you’ this is so cool’ or we had one person say, ‘I can’t believe you interviewed this person, I met her in 1978 and haven’t seen her in 40 years.’”

And while he’s no stranger to the art of a good story, even Abrey has been moved while talking to the people who form the community.

“It’s the little things,” he said.

“I spoke with a man who was born with a congenital heart defect and he has this story about how at 31 he was told he might not make it off the operating table.”

He's a prominent figure in the town, has a big family and lives a healthy lifestyle — no one would know that he had such a personal struggle in his past.

“We would have these in Vancouver or New York,” he said.

“We all have something to overcome and we all deal with it and succeed in different ways. We all use the past to motivate us, and that’s what I am aiming to do with this project.”

The Peachland vignettes can be viewed through the chamber's social media.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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