For Penticton resident Terry Olfert, giving back to the community is just in his nature.
Olfert owns RPR Heating & Air Conditioning in Penticton, and since he purchased the business in 2015 he has committed to donate 10 per cent of his net income from the business. He credits the support of his wife, Heather, for being able to donate as much as he does.
“I bought RPR four years ago and have expanded it immensely since then, and I will say a lot of that has to do with the fact that I do give back to the community,” said Olfert. “I work hard at being a good business in town and people give back to us by getting us to do stuff for them.”
Since summer 2018, Olfert has donated over $25,000 to various organizations in and around Penticton. This includes contributing $5,000 to a local dragon boat team to buy new paddles, $2,500 to help replace the rooftop heating unit at the Church of the Nazarene, $2,000 to the Willowbrook Fire Department to replace their heat pump system and more.
“It’s not something that I have to do, it’s just something that I want to do. It’s somewhat of a feel good, but it’s more the fact that you can benefit somebody else because you’ve done okay, and I’m doing okay,” said Olfert. “Is it hard sometimes to cut the cheque and say goodbye to your hard-earned money? Absolutely, but trust me when I say that doing it not only gives me fulfillment, it comes back to me tenfold because I get more out of it.”
Olfert said a lot of the causes he donates to have a personal connection for him.
“Some people come to us and ask for help, but the majority of them I have gone and hunted them out,” said Olfert. “I lost my mom when she was 74 to cancer, so I have been sponsoring (organizations) related to that. I have had one of my children go through mental illness with depression to some degree, so thus I’m sponsoring (programs related to) that.
“We love animals, and Critteraid had a need so I felt compelled to donate to them. I am a very strong advocate for churches. I am honoured to be able to give back to churches to help them.”
Olfert said the recognition for these good deeds is the last thing on his mind when he decides to donate either funding or supplies. He is proud that his employees have followed his lead and will often donate their own time to help those in need, stating they comped about $20,000 worth of equipment and labour in 2018.
“(In special circumstances) my employees will donate their time and I will donate the supplies,” said Olfert. “We have done a number of furnace replacements at dead cost, so no donation but it costs $1,000 instead of the mark-ups and the labour which would normally make it cost around $3,000 or $4,000. Anytime it comes up, if I walk into a situation and my heart bleeds for the person, I’m not going to milk it.”
Olfert said in the near future he will be donating $5,000 to the Mental Wellness Centre, sponsor a mental health awareness system for middle schools in the area. Given his extensive background as a hockey and baseball coach, he hopes to be able to sponsor a minor baseball and minor hockey team someday.
For other business owners in the area, Olfert hopes they’ll consider following his direction, even if they can’t necessarily donate funding to organizations.
“I would encourage other business owners to give back. There’s so many organizations, great organizations, that are in need. We only do a few that we can manage and what’s in our budget,” said Olfert. “It’s not always that I’ve donated money. Sometimes I’ve donated with hard, physical labour. Going out and helping a camper, digging a ditch, whatever they needed done, because I didn’t have the extra funds. There’s many ways to donate and volunteering your time is a massive way.
“Find something near and dear to your heart, that you absolutely love, or something that’s affected your life and it’s simple, help out. There’s organizations that need it.”
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