PENTICTON - Talk stamps with any member of the Penticton and District Stamp Club and watch their eyes light up.
That same enthusiasm has been transformed into a pledged $30,000 donation to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s $20-million campaign to supply medical equipment for the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion.
Even in these days of email, stamp collectors remain dedicated to their hobby.
Gus Boersma, the Penticton club’s past-president and honorary life member, said he started collecting stamps as a child. After taking a break for several years, he rediscovered his passion for the hobby in 1962.
“You get hooked on it and you want to do it as often as you can,” he said. “To me, stamp collections are something tangible and maybe you can get some money for it.”
“I think most of the people who do collect stamps like that part of it – they have something to show.”
Boersma had to put his stamp collecting on hold when he entered municipal politics in Fernie in the early 1970s and again after he and his wife, Sigrid moved to Penticton where Gus served six years on city council ending in 2006.
The Penticton Stamp Club currently has almost 50 members from as far away as Vernon. That’s up from the 18 members when Boersma took over as president in 2008. The club itself was formed 43 years ago. Non-members often participate in the auctions, but are not permitted to put their own collections up for bid.
For the past nine years funds from their stamp auctions, coinciding with the club’s monthly meetings, have been donated to charity. Donors of stamp collections put up for auction have the option of pinpointing what charity should benefit.
“Most of the money raised is from club members. They bid on these lots and therefore, in a way, they support whatever charity the money goes to,” he said.
Boersma said the membership agrees that the PRH expansion is a very worthwhile project.
“We thought whether you have cancer or whatever, we are probably going to wind up at the hospital at some point,” he said. “Why don’t we start helping them out?”
The Stamp Club is following through on its pledge, having directed more than $19,500 over the past two years to the SOS Medical Foundation’s PRH equipment campaign.
Boersma added he personally finds the Stamp Club’s support for the hospital to be extremely gratifying.
“We are really very happy to be able to help out and we want to thank the people of Penticton and area who donate (their stamp collections),” he said.
“It’s amazing how many people walk in here and say: ‘I was cleaning the house and out of the bottom drawer comes this stamp album that I haven’t seen for 20 to 30 years.’”
Construction of the new tower at PRH is now underway. It is scheduled to be open for patients in early 2019.