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Community pulls together to return helping hand to Calgarian in need

When Merry Kuchle moved to Calgary from the United States 14 years ago, she met Mitch Popilchak in the social media community that she had adopted to find out more about the people and the city.

Since she had moved to the great and frozen north, she launched a blog initially designed to help keep her parents in the know about life in Canada. Kuchle wasn’t technically inclined in how to get her own website launched, and that’s when Popilchak first stepped in to help.

“He was always like, ‘You know what, if you need any help, just let me know. I can take a look at it super fast. It’ll take you four hours, it’ll take me two minutes,’” said Kuchle.

Over the years, Kuchle continued her professional relationship with Popilchak, often having him help with more technical related aspects from her blog site. Kuchle soon realized that Popilchak was well-known in Calgary for lending a helping hand to most who crossed his path, often providing services for free to help people with start up businesses.

“And more times than not, he just helped because he was nice. You’d be like, ‘what do I owe you?’ And he’d be like, ‘Oh, no big deal. Just buy me a coffee or bake me some cookies,” she said.

“He’s just one of those people who just gives, gives and gives.”

Now, Kuchle is trying to help Popilchak.

Two years ago, Popilchak lost his job. He began taking care of his dementia-stricken mom. He decided to uproot and take a cross-Canada trip and document people across the country.

“He wanted to write a book when he came back,” Kuchle said.

Now for two years, Popilchak has been living in his truck, off part-time work, in the town of Canmore, west of Calgary. Recently he’s been delivered a $2,900 repair bill for his truck just to keep it running.

Kuchle said Popilchak reached out to her to chat and that’s when she convinced him that it was OK to ask for this kind of help. He reluctantly agreed.

Kuchle set up a GoFundMe campaign last week with a modest goal of $3,000. After four hours they reached their goal. So, she set it higher. It reached that goal in another four hours. Now the goal is at $15,000.

“I said that I know that I’m more than willing to give. And I think a lot of other people will be too. So, let me help you with this. So, he finally agreed. Not really wholeheartedly,” she said.

While the money is going to help pay for the repairs to the vehicle, it’s also going to help set Popilchak up so he can get full time work. Kuchle said he’s in Canmore because they’ve relaxed rules around people living in their vehicles, but with little spare cash, can’t make frequent trips to Calgary to try and land a full-time gig.

“I just want to get him over that hurdle where he’s in a place where he can find a job and he can find a place to live and then start a new from there,” Kuchle said, adding that despite his situation, Popilchak still volunteers four to five hours, twice a week to help prepare meals for the less fortunate.

“Even though he’s in a bad situation he’s still putting himself out there, hoping that the whole Karma thing would kick in,” she said.

Kuchle said the monetary donations are great to get Popilchak back on his feet, but that he really wants to work and they’d welcome any help in landing a full-time job.