In November, the sudden death of Professor Carl Fletcher shocked the Olivet community. Affectionately known as “Fletch” by his students, it is by this nickname that “Fast for Fletch” was born.
The fast used to be called the Finkbeiner Fast, after a former Northwest Nazarene College student body president Kurt Finkbeiner, who tragically died the night before graduation in a drowning accident 25 years ago.
Olivet has been raising money through this fast for almost 25 years and the proceeds have gone to a different global cause each year. This year, Student Development decided to make the fast more personal to the Olivet student body, according to Student Body President Senior Chelsea Risinger said.
This year, Risinger said, the idea is to “keep the fast and the money behind it—that it’s going towards someone to honor or remember [them] and then do that every year.” This year, the fast is specifically to honor Fletcher, but according to Risinger, “it will change
Vice President for Student Development Dr. Woody Webb added: “Every year we’re going to name this fast for someone associated with Olivet—it might be a faculty member, it might be a student—and this will be named either in their honor or their memory if they’ve passed and we’ll try to give the money to an organization that they were passionate about.”
For Fletcher, that passion was the foster care system. Two of his own daughters were adopted from foster care. That is why all the money raised from the fast is being donated to Starfish Family Homes, a local support service that is through Indian Oaks Counseling that supports the foster care and foster family homes in the area through different services and programs.
“This is a wonderful organization that I am sure my dad would be excited about giving to,” said Caitlyn Fletcher, one of Fletcher’s daughters. “Foster care is definitely something that was really close with our family, as we did it for close to three years when we lived in Michigan and we adopted my two youngest sisters through the foster care program.”
Olivet is following in the footsteps of other universities. “About half the schools that stopped contributing to the Finkbeiner Fast and were doing their own thing, kind of like what we’re now doing. So we ended that focused fundraiser and decided that each school would do their own fundraiser for a local organization near campus,” Webb said.
He said that the money is still being raised, but instead of going to one large ministry or organization around the world, it is going to ten local organizations. “The thing I like about it is it impacts the local community where the college is. You know, we have college campuses from Boston to San Diego and so those schools are able to do this fundraiser and impact their local community and I like that,” he said.
Risinger said Starfish Family Homes was not the only local organization that they were considering donating to. The Associated Student Council talked to Fletcher’s family and friends to determine what he was passionate about.
Risinger said the reason Starfish Family Homes was chosen over the other two options was because “we wanted to give to something that was a current need and a compassionate organization that students would be drawn to, [one] that is active in the Kankakee and the Iroquois Counties.”
“Fast for Fletch was a wonderful way to honor my dad,” Caitlyn said. “Foster care organizations are something my dad cared deeply about and I’d just like to thank everyone who participated because it means a lot to my family and it would mean a lot to my dad.”
—Kelli Poole, staff writer