A Williams Lake senior who received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in 2019 said the opportunity to work with youth has inspired his efforts.
Fred Van Kuipers has volunteered with the Navy League of Canada Chilcotin Branch 1997 mostly as president.
“The youth are our future and I think they should have the opportunity to do well for themselves,” he said, noting the cadet program is one of the best in Canada because youth get to go to many places and do interesting things.
“When you see some of these kids age out that have gone through the program, some of them join the navy, I’ve had kids join the air force, the army, RCMP, CBSA and Canadian Coast Guard. Some kids don’t join any of those organizations but you can see them being leaders in our community.”
Initially he became involved because his son Mike went to Sea Cadets in Williams Lake.
“They had asked if I would join the Navy League. Mr. Don Skea was president at the time and at the first meeting he looked at me and said ‘there is our new president,’” Van Kuipers recalled. “He said he could groom me to be the next president and I’ve stayed on ever since.”
Born in the Netherlands, he left in Jan. 8, 1962 and emigrated to Winnipeg, Man.
He moved to the lakecity and started working for Littler Floors in 1976, the same year he met Debbie who worked at Spencer-Dickie Drugs at the time.
“I fell in love with my wife in Williams Lake and decided to stay.”
He worked at Baron Floors for 22 years and had a painting business which he ran for another 20 years.
During those years he volunteered for the Williams Lake Stampede Association, the Elks and was president at one time of the Downtown Business Association.
He was co-facilitator for Parents Together and volunteered with the Girl Guides of Canada for many years.
“I really enjoyed it, both my daughters went to Brownies and Girl Guides.”
He and Debbie also have two daughters — Terri who lives in Williams Lake and works at Walmart and Jennifer who is a nurse in Abbotsford.
When David Johnston was the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, he announced the creation of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers by Her Majesty The Queen in July 2015.