By: Carl Berkowitz, TCCC Volunteer
Serving others has been a passion of Cancer Center volunteer Art King since his retirement from a successful Maryland business in 2000. Recognizing that retirement can be a hard adjustment, this Army veteran took to heart advice from his father: “Find something that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning and makes you feel good at the end of the day.” This guidance led Art to look for activities that would not only give him satisfaction… but that were also fun.
One of his first steps was to volunteer with the Benton County Juvenile Justice Center’s Truancy Board. “I was pretty wild as a kid,” Art claims, “but I had role models and rules to keep me in line. Today’s youth live in a much more permissive world. Many simply don’t have the structure that kept me out of trouble. I saw the Truancy Board as an organization I could help.”
His desire to help soon expanded to leadership roles that included the Kennewick Kiwanis, the Kennewick Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Tri-Cities Food Bank, the Mid-Columbia Reading Foundation, Ignite Youth Mentoring, Pasco Discovery Coalition, plus many other organizations, and as many readers know, the Tri-Cities Cancer Center (TCCC).
Twelve years ago Art was diagnosed with cancer. The treatment for his lymphoma was done entirely at the Cancer Center. “It was important that I could get first class medical care close to home and with a team that knew me as an individual.”
After completing his treatment Art wanted to stay away from all things cancer and did so for many years. But then came a phone call from TCCC booster George Jones (1978 Kennewick Man of the Year and 1997 Tri-Citian of the Year). George wanted to direct Art’s energy to the Cancer Center. “And when George called, you simply could not say no,” Art said with a big smile. And he’s glad that George pulled him in.
Art’s new activities with the TCCC Men’s Club (part of the TCCC Foundation) gave him insights about the Cancer Center quite different from that of a patient. He learned about the wide range of services, and seeing what was going on from an inside view impressed him. “The TCCC Foundation Board is very well run which affirms that when you donate money it’s going to a good cause.”
One of the missions of the TCCC Foundation is to reach out for support from the Tri-Cities community. “People here are incredibly generous in supporting organizations like the Cancer Center, and will do almost anything. But they need to know what’s going on. A key role of the Foundation is to inform the public about TCCC programs, which happens at our annual breakfast, through our newsletter, media interviews and through personal interactions with community members.”
Art is now finishing his second year as president of the Men’s Club, has been involved in many Club events and serves on the TCCC Foundation Board. After many years of participation, he still encourages others to join and notes that the Men’s Club plays many roles. “But maybe one of our most important jobs is simply to bring men together and let them be part of the Cancer Center. We enjoy helping others through TCCC activities.” He’s also quick to note how far the Cancer Center has come since his treatment and knows from his participation with the Foundation of all the great plans for the future.
Art had a similar experience with the VFW. He served in the Army in Thailand providing support for both the Army and Air Force in Vietnam. He obtained the rank of Spec 5 and took advantage of the GI Bill to earn a Business degree at the University of Maryland. He moved on with life, not really spending much time thinking about his military service.
Then a friend suggested he join the Kennewick VFW Post which he reluctantly did, eventually becoming the Chaplain where he had opportunities to meet veterans’ families at funerals. Art heard stories of heroism and incredible valor of local citizens, especially during WWII. In many cases the veterans witnessed things they chose never to discuss. He now provides information to families of deceased veterans about their relative’s service that they may not have known. In doing so, Art has learned much about our local veterans, which has made him prouder of his own service, giving him a better understanding of the sacrifices of our veterans and how our country has benefitted from their service.
‘Helping others.’ It gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and makes you feel good at the end of the day. Which, all in all, is a pretty simple prescription for a good life.