Prince Albert man honoured for volunteer service

Jodi Schellenberg
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His name is well-known in the Prince Albert community and soon his giving spirit will be known by many more around the globe.

John Fryters, local pastor and volunteer, was recently honoured with the Salute to Senior Service award for the province of Saskatchewan.

John Fryters, a local humanitarian, volunteer and pastor, recently won the Salute to Senior Service award for the province of Saskatchewan.

“It is a type of a reputable home-care organization in the United States that has services for seniors,” Fryters explained. “They have senior citizens homes and retirement residences in Canada and the United States.”

The award has been around for a number of years for seniors who have or are providing voluntary services in both Canada and the United States. There were local winners in the seven provinces where someone was nominated along with a national winner.

“I think it is an honour to be nominated and I think it is an honour to win,” Fryters said.

Fryters said he has been volunteering since 1975 and it is a major part of his life, more important than other areas of his life such as working.

“I’m a little duck in a big pond and I do my little thing that I feel I need to do, so I feel humbled about it,” Fryters said.

Since he has been volunteering since he was in his early 30s, Fryters said he could fill pages with a list of organizations he has been involved with, either short-term or long-term.

“That has been my life. I just love doing it,” he said. “It is like someone likes to play golf and I like volunteer service. I get a kick out of it … I don’t even look at it as giving back to the community -- it just comes naturally to me I think.”

Fryters, 65, said that when he was told he won the award was trying to pinpoint why volunteering became an important part of his life.

“I think it is kind of an ethical thing I learned from my (parents),” he said. “I lost my mom and dad fairly early. I was only 15 years old when they died in a car crash.

“I remember them -- particularly my dad -- being involved in the community and being involved in the volunteer services to a great extend and I am wondering if it is kind of in my blood,” he added.

Before his parents died, Fryters remembers a couple instances when his father stepped up to help others.

There was a flood in the Netherlands when Fryters was a boy where some dykes broke, flooding about two-thirds of the country.

“I remember my dad working for the Red Cross and leaving home with blankets and going to rescue these people from the flood,” Fryters said.

There was another time Fryters remembers they were living in a small village and there was a funeral home. The funeral home didn’t have anyone to clean the bodies for viewing. Fryters’ father would volunteer to clean them.

“I remember him getting an award for the highest giver of blood donations with the Red Cross,” Fryters said. “He was very involved with the Roman Catholic church.”

Since his parents were such good role models, getting involved and helping others, Fryters believes that is where his willingness to help others came from.

“I like involving myself with people and causes and just doing it,” he said.

Salute to Senior Service will be giving $500 to a non-profit charity of Fryters’ choice.

“I’ve selected the Centre for Excellence and International Development for that,” Fryters said. “I want it to be spent in Peru. I want it to be spent in some very poor, poor areas in the country of Peru in international development projects, whatever they might be.”

There are many different organizations Fryters is involved with now.

In December, Fryters became a developmental officer for the Rose Garden Hospice Association.

“It is an organization that is trying to set up a free standing hospice in Prince Albert,” Fryters said. “In the 80s, I was the president of the board of the Regional Hospice of Quinte, which was the first free standing hospice in Canada. Now they are going to open a free standing hospice in Prince Albert and I thought that is something I want to be involved with.”

He also recently became involved with the Cervical Cancer Prevention International, a new charity and non-profit organization established by two Prince Albert doctors.

“They want to prescreen a quarter of a million women in India for cervical cancer,” Fryters said. “We are trying to set up a charitable organization that is going to make that happen -- not only the prescreening, but obviously the treatment of those women. Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women in India.”

Another thing Fryters is involved with is doing developmental work for the Center For Excellence in International Development.

The organization works in a variety of countries around the world, including Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Peru, doing a number of international development projects.

“I just came back from Peru and I am involved in a very big one now in Peru,” Fryters said. “It is in a city called Manchay.”

They are trying to establish a 300 to 500 house sustainable housing complex built around a Community Life Resources Centre. Information about the project can be found at

“They have asked me to become involved to train 50,000 young people within that city,” Fryters said. “It is a city of around 200,000 and the district has around two million people I believe.

“They have asked me to develop a proposal, which I have done, to train 50,000 young people leadership skills,” he added. “We are putting together a Canadian and Peruvian team to do that.”

He met up with Peruvian congress members and other community leaders at the embassy in Lima to sort out what the next steps will be.

For the last 25 years, Fryters has also been involved with the Jubilation Residential Centres.

“Just recently we completed training for First Nations people here and pre-employment training for First Nations people here in Prince Albert,” he said.

He is also involved in raising funds for a few organizations in the Windsor area, including JAM Canada, the Windsor Life Centre and the Windsor Food Bank.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Senior Service, Red Cross International Development Centre for Excellence Rose Garden Hospice Association Regional Hospice Cervical Cancer Prevention International First Nations Center For Excellence Community Life Resources Centre Jubilation Residential Centres Windsor Life Centre Windsor Food Bank

Geographic location: United States, Canada, Saskatchewan Peru Netherlands India Uganda South Sudan Kenya Tanzania Lima Windsor

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