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Wells Gray Tours Gives Back!

At Wells Gray Tours we take our social responsibility seriously and know that as a business and worldwide tour operator leaving a positive impact where we visit is important. “Pledge A Pencil, Sharpen A Future” is one of our give back campaigns that has helped schools in South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Belize and Bhutan.

With five offices in BC, the communities where our customers and staff live, work and play is equally important to Wells Gray Tours. We designated June as our Give Back month. In addition to our Thompson Rivers University (TRU) endowment which provides annual scholarships for Tourism and Geography students, in June, each office was given monies to adjudicate within their own communities to support local projects or organizations. Non-profit organizations, foundations, and environmental groups play an important role in providing services and support structure for a variety of needs that keep our communities healthy and vibrant.

Below is a list of our offices and the projects they selected for their donation of $1,000 each.


The BIG Little Science Centre: The Centre offers enhanced programming and exhibits in the areas of physics, chemistry, biology, and geology, while maintaining its current ‘hands-on’ format as well as dynamic demonstrations of specialized equipment. There is something to learn and enjoy for everyone from children and teens to adults, including seniors.

Left to right – Gord Stewart, executive director of the Science Centre, Roland Neave, Doug Bickley from the Science Centre, and Stephanie Dilling.

Nature Conservancy: Brigade Lake Dam infrastructure upgrades, The Brigade Lake Dam is associated with the Napier Lake Ranch Conservation Area. For years, this earthen dam has created Brigade Lake, a small wetland that has become home to a variety of different species of birds, fish, and littoral species. The Dam, unfortunately, is in dire need of repair. NCC’s stewardship staff have determined that repairing the dam to a functional point will allow for increased wetland habitat.

Staff: Roland, Neave, Fraser Neave, Stephanie Dilling, Pam Stewart, Maria Fraser, Sharon Connatty, Paige Kimberly and Kathy Swayze.


Kelowna Women’s Shelter: Women and children who are abused need to know that there is a safe, confidential and non-judgemental place they can go if they need help. The shelter offers not only a 24 hour hotline but support groups, counselling, and free programs for women and children. They have emergency housing plus more long term and transitional housing available for moms and youth. They even have an Inside/Out Violence Prevention Program for Youth which is a community based interactive program that can be offered at local schools and other organizations.

Terri Wirtz

Adventures in Tourism: Kelowna’s Ogopogo Rotary club for 14 consecutive years  continues to sponsor 20 to 25 tourism students from BC, other provinces and countries around the world to come to Kelowna and learn about various tourist venues from golf, skiing, wineries, ecotourism, hotels and restaurants. They receive a behind-the-scenes look at the operations and management of these industries and venues with presentations by the owners or managers.

The program promotes a greater level of understanding and appreciation for the value tourism represents to communities and the vocational opportunities in tourism.

Staff: Terri Wirtz, Pat Manthey and Kerrie Niemeier


The South Okanagan/Similkameen branch of the SPCA: This non-profit organization relies mainly on community donations to help all animals that have been neglected, abused or are homeless. Priority ranges from advocacy, providing immediate veterinary services for rescues, education and finding long term homes for the animals.

South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (and other raptors):

Owls and other birds of prey (raptors) are often injured today by vehicles, fences, power lines or become ill by ingesting fertilizers and pesticides. The South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls rehabilitates these injured birds and releases them back into the wild. They also provided education to the public on the important role these birds have in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Staff: Aina Juzups, Shelley Clay and Pat Manthey


Vernon District SPCA: The funds will be used by the local Vernon SPCA to help the abused, sick, homeless and neglected animals in our community. Our furry friends give so much and only ask for food, shelter and love.

Allan Brookes Nature Centre Society: This nature preserve is perched on the hills above Vernon on the site of the old weather station. The Centre provides a hands-on experience to learn about the Okanagan, considered to be one of the three most endangered ecological regions in Canada. Through displays, pictures and detailed explanations, the Centre promotes the enjoyment of nature through education and awareness of habitat conservation.

Staff: Darlene Berndt and Lynne Demers


Help Fill a Dream: Love can be found in many places; in the heart of a child, in the strength of a parent, or in the dogged determination of a total stranger. In 1986, Victoria transit driver, Rick Thomas, met a seven year old bus passenger suffering from a terminal illness. More than anything, she wanted to visit her grandmother in Nova Scotia. Rick was so determined to find funds to grant this young girl’s dream that he set out to make it happen. This first dream sparked the idea for something even bigger, and the Help Fill a Dream Foundation was formed within the year. Today the organization provides hope, help and happiness for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands’ children under the age of 19 with life-threatening conditions by fulfilling their dreams, improving their quality of life and assisting their families with care and financial support. A child’s dream may be a trip to Disneyland, to meet their favourite celebrity or sports figure; while for their parents, the dream may simply be to spend time with their child as they undergo medical treatment or to make life more comfortable when they come home.

Left to Right – Craig Smith and Sema Phair.

The Victoria Compost and Conservation Education Society: The Society promotes composting, organic gardening, conservation, local food production and urban sustainability. Providing education through interactive site tours, workshops,  presentations and programs for elementary and high school students.

Staff: Sema Phair, Michelle Edington and Lisa Migneault

Where you live and where we live is equally as improtant as where we take you!

Written by: Joan Niemeier