Long-time volunteer makes immeasurable contribution

Art Fletcher first started volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society after moving to Kelowna in 1988.

Art Fletcher.

Art Fletcher recently celebrated 25 years of volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society.

“You could measure Art’s generosity by counting the number of hours, days, weeks and months that he has contributed—every day, 8:00am to 4:30pm, for 25 years,” said Randene Wejr, regional director for the Canadian Cancer Society in the Southern Interior Region.

“Just imagine the impact on the bottom line when a skilled, full-time employee is not accepting a pay cheque.

“But Art is much more than that. He’s authentic and thoughtful in his work with donors and staff. He is a genuinely incredible human being whom we could all learn a few chapters on life from.”

C The year prior, he retired from a career in education as a teacher, principal and superintendent of schools in Creston, Edgewater, Fort St. John, Grand Forks and Lillooet.

“Four months after moving to Kelowna, my wife Norma and I saw an appeal for funds to establish a mobile mammography van for B.C. and decided to donate,” he said.

“When I took the donation to the Canadian Cancer Society office, I noticed about a dozen people sitting around a table and was told they were writing receipts for mail-in donations. I mentioned that I could do that and was ‘hired’ for half a day a week.”

Once the staff discovered that not only was Fletcher willing to increase his volunteering hours, but that he also had computer experience at a time when many did not, his half-day a week rapidly became full-time.

He began volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society “partly by chance” and because, like many Canadians, his family was affected by cancer.

“I had gone through surgery to have part of my thyroid gland removed because of cancer and Norma had surgery for breast cancer a few years before moving here,” Fletcher recalled.

“Since then we both have had additional surgery to remove cancers.”

Even more devastating than their own experiences, however, was the loss of Art and Norma’s second son Ron to melanoma.

Ron had just completed a master’s degree in engineering when he was diagnosed. He passed away two years later, in 1988 at the age of 26.

Over the years, one of Fletcher’s daughters lost her husband to brain cancer and the other daughter’s husband has recently been successfully treated for breast cancer.

Although Fletcher finds it difficult to name one particular moment that he’s most proud of during his time volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society, he does fondly remember the opening of the Southern Interior Rotary Lodge 16 years ago.

“The three organizations—BC Cancer Agency, Kelowna General Hospital and the Canadian Cancer Society—we all came together and raised over $5.7 million to build the lodge. A large portion of that funding came from Rotary, and I had the opportunity to work with those donors. It was pretty impressive to be there for the opening.”

Fletcher has also been a volunteer with Scouts Canada for 66 years and has, in the past, been involved as a volunteer with service clubs, his church, and other organizations.

Throughout it all, he and Norma raised two sons and two daughters, and now he enjoys time spent with eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

“There are times that my wife asks me when I’m going to retire again,”  he laughs. “But you know, I think she’s OK with it as long as I’m happy. I try to keep her happy, and she tries to keep me happy—that’s probably why we’ve been together for 57 years.”

Fletcher plans on continuing his volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society for what he says are “two basic reasons.

“I enjoy doing what I do and the people—staff and volunteers—that I work with,” he said.

“The other reason is that I have great satisfaction in knowing that I am contributing to the eventual eradication of cancer and also helping those who are fighting cancer today.”

What would Fletcher say to other people considering volunteering for the Canadian Cancer Society?

“I’d say that I have seen up-close what the society does with funds raised and can see that much more could be done with additional funds in the areas of research, education and support,” he said.

Randene Wejr also believes strongly in the impact volunteers can make in the cancer cause.

“Obviously, Art is unique,” said Wejr. “(But) we’re so thankful for every bit of time that each of our 15,000 volunteers in B.C. and the Yukon contributes to the cause.

“We couldn’t accomplish what we do, without the generosity of so many.”


Just Posted

Double book launch in Kelowna

Authors Sharon Thesen and Erin Moure read from their new works Thursday at library

Westbank Opry announces Christmas show

West Kelowna music fans are encouraged to bring a food donation to help the less fortunate

Giants ground Rockets in WHL action

Vancouver builds early lead, never looks back in 6-1 win at Langley Events Centre

Kelowna author promoting life-changing book

Book signing event at Chapters Sunday of long-awaited Runaway Trilogy of life-changing maxims

Pedestrian hit at ‘dangerous’ Kelowna cross walk

Emergency officials responded to a cross walk that neighbours say is unsafe Saturday evening

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

LIVE: BC Liberals kick off leadership debate in Nanaimo

Candidates’ forum is at noon at Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Pen High Lakers make strong showing against KSS Owls

Penticton Lakers fought hard through to final set

Gallery celebrates long history of art appreciation

Gallery Odin, at Silver Star Mountain, is gearing up to open their 16th annual Winter Exhibition

WATCH: Thousands gathering in Abbotsford for Const. John Davidson funeral procession

Celebration of life to follow at Abbotsford Centre at 1 p.m.

Warriors end seven-game road slide with win in P.G.

West Kelowna bounces back from lopsided loss to the Vees a night earlier with victory over Kings

Mellof, Koffski top Superleague of Curling

Stolairus Aviation sits at 4-0, while Raymond James is 4-1 in Kelowna Curling Club action

Back-to-back wins for the Vees this weekend

Penticton Vees take down Capitals 10-1

Giants stop Rockets’ 4-game winning streak

Vancouver scored four first-period goals to down Kelowna in WHL action.

Most Read