By Brennan Phillips
Special to the Western News
Two decades of tireless volunteer work has earned Bob Anderson the Rotary Club of Penticton-Okanagan Unsung Citizen Award.
“It’s humbling,” said Anderson, who received the award on Feb. 13. “When working with charities and volunteering, you don’t do it for the recognition. You do it because you enjoy doing it.”
Anderson has worked with multiple charities over the last 20 years but it was largely his volunteer efforts with The Friends of the Oxbows, an environmental advocacy group that he co-founded, that was recognized by the Rotary. The group preserves the riparian oxbows that are found throughout the city, the remnants of the Okanagan river’s original winding path from Okanagan Lake to Skaha.
The Friends of the Oxbows have been successful in working with the city and the Penticton Indian Band in acting to protect the Brandon Avenue oxbow. A nearby storm drain empties into the oxbow, and as a result had quickly begun to fill in. In 2016, the oxbow was dredged of the built up sediment and sand, and an interceptor was installed in order to help prevent further build up. The Friends of the Oxbows are now working to preserve the state of the Warren Avenue oxbow.
The work is not likely to stop there.
“Protecting the Brandon Avenue oxbow was good,” said Anderson, “But it’s like climbing the first step of a ladder. There’s many more to come until you reach the top.”
Anderson has also worked with the Gleaners Society of the Okanagan Valley, helping the south branch in Oliver with gathering culled vegetables and fruits, ones decided unfit to send to market due to appearance or other reasons, cleaning them, cutting them and drying them to be put into soup mix that is then sent to countries in need.
His work with the north branch, near Lumby, and the Canadian Food for Children charity drew upon the extensive list of contacts Anderson had developed during his 18 years working for the Penticton Regional Hospital — where he still does additional volunteer work. He has assisted the two groups in gathering used medical equipment, such as old wheelchairs, as well as surplus supplies to be sent to places that cannot afford the equipment — one of the larger recipients being the Christian Blind Mission.
“I really do advocate volunteering,” said Anderson. “It’s very satisfying, and as a volunteer you meet a lot of wonderful people. You seldom find a miserable volunteer.”
It is for his selfless work, and his embodiment of the Rotary Club’s motto of “Service above Self,” that Anderson earned the reward and recognition.