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Unsung Heroes: This Kamloops pair gets cooking when the need arises

Kamloops This Week salutes those who go above and beyond for the good of the community

When there is a need in the community, two local business owners regularly prove their commitment to Kamloops.

Pizza Now owner Rocky Hunter and Gerald Thiessen, owner of Papa G’s Cafe, have been serving food for free to evacuees from wildfires and floods and to crisis volunteers.

Last year, Hunter donated $5 from every $30 purchase at Pizza Now to The Mustard Seed Kamloops during the store’s inaugural YKA Pizza Week.

“Kamloops has been awesome to me over the years and has provided me the opportunity to give back to those that need the help,” Hunter said. “I want to make this an annual event so I can give back as much as possible.”

“Rocky has never hesitated to step up and do more than his share when it comes to donating to The Mustard Seed Kamloops,” said Kelly Thomson, managing director for the non-profit agency.

Thomson said the YKA Pizza Week fundraiser went a long way in helping support and build programs and initiatives at The Mustard Seed.

Thiessen is another hometown helper who will roll his sleeves up and pitch in whenever help is needed.

Whether stepping up to hold a fundraiser to raise money to help get assault victim Jessie Simpson back home or to meet the needs of evacuees from last year’s wildfires and floods or to help the Kamloops Hospice Association, Thiessen is always ready to pitch in.

Having been recently asked to help the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Memorial Hospice Home with four meal events, Thiessen stepped up once again.

“I told them I’ll do all four meals for free. I don’t mind giving back to the people that support me,” he said. “They were very thrilled.”

When money was needed to help Simpson’s mom upgrade her Savona home to accommodate her son’s return, Thiessen organized a fundraiser, seeing $5 from every order going to the cause.

When the City of Kamloops Emergency Support Services called upon Thiessen to have 40 meals ready at the end of each day, Thiessen got to it.

He said keeping staff employed this past year is important to him. To do that, Thiessen trained floor staff to work their new skills in the kitchen.

“All of my staff has bought in to the system. They always step up,” Thiessen said. “I know how hard it is to get good people, so I kept them on by cross-training them in the kitchen to cook. We’ve had a good run and we’re looking forward to what 2022 is going bring.”