YORKTON – George Flunder has been volunteering as a member of the Kinsmen Club of Yorkton since 1966.
Flunder accumulated multiple recognitions for his 57 years of volunteer work with the club, but was most recently honoured with the Kin Canada Life Membership Award on March 18 at the Perogy Cup Cabaret.
"It's quite an honour," said Flunder in an interview with Yorkton This Week, later adding, "it was quite a surprise – I didn't know a thing about it."
Flunder said he was living and working in Esterhazy when he joined the service organization.
"I was a partsman at that time running a parts department," said Flunder, later adding, "one of the Kinsmen [in Esterhazy] sponsored me."
"He was my brother's boss – I kind of felt I should listen to him," said Flunder with a laugh.
In 1971 Flunder moved back to Yorkton and began volunteer work for projects and events like the Perogy Cup and TeleMiracle.
"This past weekend we had our 46-year Perogy Cup – should have been 48 but with COVID we had to cancel a couple of years," said Flunder.
Flunder said the honour came by way of his fellow club members and thinks they took into consideration the time he's been with the club and the funds he's helped raise over the years.
"I was always there taking part — I never missed a meeting — my attendance was good...it's so important," said Flunder.
"The Kinsmen of Yorkton got together with the head office in Ontario and decided they were going to give me a Life Membership Award," said Flunder, addingg, "Kinsmen started in Yorkton in 1945 and there has been 16 Kinsmen from Yorkton that have got Life Membership Awards since then."
Flunder is the 17th member of the Yorkton Kinsmen to receive the award. Prior to the prestigious award he'd recognized as Kinsmen of the Year for Yorkton in 2014-2015 as well as district plaques and a 100 per cent pin for attending club meetings for 12 years without missing one.
Flunder said his favorite past times with the Kinsmen involved attending conventions, both national and district, and noted it was the fellowship with Kin around the country that he cherished.
"I wanted to be involved with the Kinsmen," said Flunder, adding, "I enjoy every bit of it because I love Telemiracle and Perogy Cup and all of these different events that we have."
Flunder said it's getting harder to recruit new members to the club and attributes the decline in membership to young people not wanting to get too involved.
"They're busy with families and their jobs," said Flunder.
In fact, Flunder actually re-joined the club in 2009, as at one point in history members over the age of 40 belonged to the K40 Club and the Kinsmen Club was reserved for adults under that age.
"I was very glad they did that – I was never in favour of the K40 thing because I wasn't ready to retire the Kinsmen," said Flunder, adding, "I just enjoy it too much — any age can take part — whatever you can do."
Along with volunteering his time to the Kinsmen, Flunder could often be found at local nursing homes entertaining residents with his guitar skills.
"I played in a band for many years – when I got older I started playing care homes," said Flunder, noting he'd been playing in homes for seniors since the 1960s.
"Bentley or Asplen Bluffs or the Nursing Home or wherever," said Flunder.
Throughout the year Flunder collects donations for TeleMiracle on behalf of the Yorkton Kinsmen Club and is a top fundraiser for the club. Flunder said the Yorkton Kinsmen make as much as $40,000 in Telemiracle donations of which he has contributed anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 in a year.
Flunder is humble about his contributions and explained that the other club members are working and have less time to fundraise, whereas he has been fully retired since 2016. "I have more time – I can spend more time raising money."
Flunder, now retired, was a partsman in garages and travelled for 18 years selling parts and tools "on the road."
"The last 20 years of my life I worked at Superstore as a greeter," said Flunder, noting he started a bed-and-breakfast business 27 years ago and spends time helping his wife with it these days.
When asked how many years he had left volunteering with the group, Flunder said he would keep going until he was unable to.
"Thank you to the Kinsmen Club of Yorkton and the Kinnettes for making this award possible for me and for helping with knowledge and past experience – thank you so much."