If you were a visitor to the streets of Sicamous this summer, there’s a good chance you were hugged by a stranger who, of course, is a stranger no more.
Sicamous resident Shirley Holcomb made it her mission this spring to welcome visitors to the community, offering a card, some kind words and the warmest of greeting, a hug. And she did it without apprehension or discrimination, extending her arms to anyone visiting the town, regardless of whether they arrived by RV or on a Harley Davidson, or if they had a B.C., Alberta or U.S. licence plate.
In a big city like Vancouver, this approach likely would not have gone over as well. But in Sicamous, “Huggy Shirley” Holcomb seems to have made a positive, lasting impression on everyone she met. So much so that the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce honoured Holcomb with a Visitor Ambassador award.
To some, Holcomb’s initiative – promoting the community one hug at a time – may seem odd. But with a warm, sincere and selfless embrace, the sprightly senior has accomplished what some communities spend thousands of marketing dollars to do: selling the community to a tourist market (and here’s the most imporant part) who plan on returning in the future. Furthermore, she was able to do this while Sicamous was in a dire state, suffering and than recovering from the ravages of a debris flow and flooding, and a flood of related negative media publicity that did little good for the community.
To say Sicamous needed someone like Holcomb this summer is an understatement.
Kudos have to be given to the Sicamous Chamber for recognizing the good thing the community has in Holcomb.
It isn’t surprising Holcomb says she feels undeserving of the award. Such a response should be expected from one who is willing to hug a stranger for the benefit of her community.