Before Robert “Bob” Ungar met his wife, Loretta, he was working as a bush pilot and flew helicopters, coasting through life.

“Monday I’d be catching grizzly bears with a biologist, Tuesday counting moose or caribou, Wednesday looking for gold or coal and by the weekend I was trying to tame a forest fire. I found that lifestyle more interesting,” Bob says.

On occasion, he’d stay at a Salvation Army shelter, a safe, reliable place to rest and receive a warm welcome.

“I had quite a wanderlust and didn’t want to settle anywhere,” says Bob. “I probably put my head down at one of the Army beds at least three times in my life.

“I was always treated very well, with respect and without judgment.”

Bob met Loretta in Grande Prairie, Alta., and the two lived in the city for approximately eight years and raised three children. During that time, Bob volunteered with the Army, ringing the kettle bells at Christmastime.

“It wasn’t just about ringing the bells,” says Bob. “It was about what The Salvation Army did to assist other people, without grandstanding on their part.

“They just silently and quietly helped … I’m a believer in that.”

Supportive City

In 1988, Bob and his family moved to Sudbury, Ont. Bob started three chem-dry businesses in carpet upholstery cleaning, water damage and flood restoration, and continued to volunteer. Bob and Loretta’s three children are now grown and working in health care and communications.

Now retired, Bob not only rings kettle bells for The Salvation Army in Sudbury but also volunteers with the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), the Sudbury Food Bank, Knights of Columbus and the building committee at his church.

Growing up, Bob’s parents showed him the importance of volunteer work. His mother helped out with the Girl Guides for 35 years and was on several church boards and social committees. His father assisted with school board and church committees.

“It’s always good to give,” says Bob. “There are people who need assistance in life for various reasons, and as long as there are others in need, The Salvation Army will have a job to do.”

In 2021, The Salvation Army in Sudbury raised $211,465 through the kettle campaign. “All of our kettle money goes toward our family services, such as our food bank which serves more than 300 households a month, sending at-risk kids to summer camp, or our hamper program that served almost 900 households in 2022,” says Valerie McInall, administrative assistant. “We are grateful for all the support we receive from the city, from volunteers who give their time and from people who donate money and toys.

“It’s beautiful how supportive the city can be.”

Melissa Yue Wallace is a journalism graduate and freelance writer who is passionate about helping people in need and encouraging the organizations that work tirelessly to care for them. Melissa lives in Richmond Hill, Ont., with her husband and twin children.

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