A PK Salute to Charles V. “Charlie” Self
Story by Michelle Ince | Photo by Kim Nussbaum
Pictured above: The late Charles V. â€œCharlieâ€ Self (bottom center), along with
Charlieâ€™s Angels volunteers, Jeanne Powell (top left) and Letha La Salle (right). Top center is Magyn Whitaker, director of Charlieâ€™s Angels.
These words were used at various times to describe Charles V. â€œCharlieâ€ Self, a longtime Possum Kingdom resident and former owner of the North Forty who passed away June 27.
But Self was more than just a business owner. He also was a man of faith, and it was that faith that called him to serve the needy with what is now known as â€œCharlieâ€™s Angels,â€ a food delivery service that began with modest roots.
Magyn Whitaker, the current director of Charlieâ€™s Angels, said it was Selfâ€™s grandparents who raised him that inspired his plan to serve those who could not help themselves.
Self initially went to local restaurants and asked how much they would charge for five meals. He then delivered those meals himself to â€œshut-ins,â€ as he called them.
But it was more than food that he brought on those visits. Self knew that he might be the only link to the outside world for those he visited, so he would sit and talk about his faith, too.
â€œHe wasnâ€™t pushy about his religion,â€ his son Andy Self said. â€œBut if the timing was right, he would share about Jesus.â€
It wasnâ€™t long until the local eateries realized what Self was up to, and soon they refused to let him pay for the meals. Whitaker said it was from this donation system that the meal deliveries went from one day a week to two, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
As many of the local restaurants began to donate meals, the outreach grew to a point where it was more than one man could do. Ten meals a week grew to 30, and soon Self sought out a base of operations for his endeavor.
By chance at a Little League baseball game in Graford 23 years ago, Self ran into local business owner Scott Herring, who owned a building that had been a restaurant on FM 2353. The building had been sitting empty for a while, and Self wanted to know if he could rent a room there.
Instead of just one room, Herring offered Self the entire building.
According to Whitaker, Self said that he couldnâ€™t afford to rent the whole building, to which Herring replied that he didnâ€™t want any money.
It was from there, Whitaker said, that Charlieâ€™s Angels can trace its founding.
After acquiring the building to house his meal service, Selfâ€™s community project began cooking meals in-house. It still was receiving donations from local restaurants, but the service also began taking on volunteers and donations to fund its mission.
â€œFrom the time it started 23 years ago, we have had upwards of 75 to 100 volunteers,â€ Whitaker said.
The volunteers range from in-house cooks to delivery drivers, and itâ€™s the delivery drivers that Whitaker said Self considered to be on the front lines of Charlieâ€™s Angels, since they represent the face and voice of the organization. Self told the drivers to stop and visit if the people they were delivering to wanted to talk.
Since 1996, Charlieâ€™s Angels has served more than 318,000 meals. These days the organization delivers 180 meals a week, has 30 to-go orders per week and serves about 30 meals a week onsite.
Whitaker said Self would sit and visit when people came into eat, just like he had when he first began his delivery service, and she added that he got a real joy from it. To know him was to know the most humble, modest, funny and God-fearing man, she said, and everything he did was about his faith.
â€œCharlie has his seat â€¦ and he would just sit and talk about the old days,â€ Whitaker said.
These sentiments were shared by Dayna Coston, who had known Self since he first came to Possum Kingdom in the 1970s when he bought the North Forty convenience store. She said Self was known for his sweet, caring demeanor to all, which she said is shown in his legacy of work with Charlie’s Angels.
Said Andy Self of his father: â€œHe helped a lot of people out here at the lake. (He would) let them charge up a ticket or just give money.â€
Whitaker echoed that sentiment.
â€œIf Charlie can be defined as anything, he was an angel,â€ she said, â€œand if you said that to him, he would stop you in your tracks and say, â€˜This is not about me. This is a God thing. This is us feeding the community. This is us offering a service to the community. This is volunteers coming in and offering their time.â€™ â€
Volunteers are the heart of the organization, Whitaker said, including high school students from Graford ISD and a local homeschool group who uses Charlieâ€™s Angels as an opportunity for community service.
Even Selfâ€™s stepson, Tommy Brown, volunteers.
When asked what he does, he jokingly replied, â€œThe grunt work.â€
Whitaker said Brown is much more involved than that, though, including doing all the outdoor cooking for when the organizations serves hamburgers or fried foods. Like Self, Brown is modest, and Whitaker said he helps when the group gets deliveries from Sysco, doing a lot of the heavy lifting and maintenance work â€“ but, like Self, he downplays his role.
Charlieâ€™s Angels also began allowing the building to be used by community members who needed it for events such as memorial services and family gatherings. At one time, the organization even put together Thanksgiving meals for members of the community.
Whitaker said Selfâ€™s vision for his outreach effort was that all are welcome. The organization never charges for meals, and it doesnâ€™t keep up with who pays for the food. There is a donation basket for those who choose to dine in, but it is strictly voluntary.
Part of Selfâ€™s legacy was his refusal to reach out to the government for assistance, a tenet Whitaker said he adhered to because he didnâ€™t want to be told what to do. The organization is run with donations and prayers, and at one point it even housed a childrenâ€™s daycare to help raise funds for the charity.
Whitaker smiled as she recalled a day when the dessert freezer was empty. She called Self to ask what to do, and his answer was to pray.
â€œAnd Iâ€™m not kidding you, by the time I got here Wednesday morning to lay out desserts for Thursday, our dessert freezer was full,â€ she said.
She said he would say a prayer if funds ran low, â€œand it never failed that there would be a check in the mail or somebody would come by to make a donation.â€
Whitaker said Self never asked for donations, and the organization didnâ€™t have a Facebook page like it does now. She said he just relied on prayer, and somehow there was always enough money to keep Charlieâ€™s Angels running.
â€œYes, I know the ladies cooked it, and people supported his cause,â€ Andy Self said. â€œBut it was God that moved on them. He just left it to God.â€
Charlieâ€™s Angels has now grown to include three routes that deliver to the Graford and Possum Kingdom Lake area.
Before Selfâ€™s death, Whitaker said the organization had an â€œofficialâ€ board meeting that was attended by Herring, who was curious about the future of the organization.
Because of the growth of the organization and its issues with the current building, Herring offered them the adjacent land for a new structure to be built. Whitaker said Selfâ€™s vision was for this new building to serve as a community center for Possum Kingdom Lake residents. Charlieâ€™s Angels could still cook and package meals there, but he also wanted it to be used for family gatherings, birthday parties and community meetings.
â€œItâ€™s going to be for anybody who needs it,â€ Whitaker said. â€œHe loved fellowship.â€
She added that they have even come up with a name: the Charles â€œCharlieâ€ V. Self Civic Center, Home of Charlieâ€™s Angels, PK Mobile Meals, House of Praise.
â€œThis is in his honor,â€ she said. â€œCharlieâ€™s Angels is about the community.â€
She said that Herringâ€™s only request was that the new building have â€œa big back porch.â€
Whitaker said that just before Selfâ€™s passing, she went to visit him in the hospital and asked if there were any â€œmust havesâ€ for the new building. He wanted a small office, she said, but he also insisted there be a coat closet, because he didnâ€™t want folks to have to hang their coats on the back of their chairs. He was always thinking about others, she noted.
As for funding the building, Whitaker says it will be built using donations and volunteers, and the goal is to have the structure built within a year to 18 months.
Anyone interested in making donations to the building fund can contact Whitaker via the Charlieâ€™s Angels Facebook page (www.facebook.com/groups/841571279985327/), or by stopping by the current base of operations. All donations are tax deductible and will help continue Selfâ€™s vision of community service and outreach.