An Enderby community pillar had plenty more to celebrate than just his 83rd birthday on Saturday, May 8.
This weekend of every year, John Pavelich can be found cooking Mother’s Day pancakes with the Enderby and District Lions Club. He’s known as ‘JP’ around Birchdale Golf Course on men’s night, at the seniors centre manning the ballot boxes during an election, or at the ball diamonds during Funtastic — and in Enderby he’s as big a part of Mother’s Day breakfast as the pancakes.
Outside at his home near the high school, his May 8 birthday party had balloons in the front yard, signs of appreciation planted in the drive, and a little extra company.
Mayor Greg McCune and Coun. Tundra Baird were among the small gathering there to present JP — whose presence and volunteerism in the community spans more than 50 years — with a Lifetime Civic Merit award on behalf of city council.
A retired school teacher who’s lived in town since 1967, JP’s latest award will go nicely beside the BC Community Achievement Award he was presented with in 2016.
Though the in-person gathering was kept small, various community members drove by to cheer and honk their horns, while other friends and family joined the surprise event by teleconference.
It’s always been about more than the pancakes for JP, a quiet figurehead among the local Lions leadership whose garage sale fundraiser is an annual success, bringing in funds that later show up around town in the form of a new bench, or a donation, or a community clean-up.
“JP not only gives back, he also gifts back as a Lions Club member who contributes his time and energy to the many community projects that have enhanced Enderby over the decades, such as the Lions Gazebo in Riverside Park,” the city said on its website Saturday, referring to a 2003 project that’s served as a place for ball tournament concerts, weddings and other celebrations ever since.
That project showed JP the lengths the community will go to turn a good idea into something lasting, and he watched the community rally around it.
He said the Enderby Lions had 25 members the year the Gazebo was built.
“By the end of the project, our membership had risen to 75. So that is the kind of help that you get around this little town,” JP said. “I want to say ‘thank you’ to all of the members of our community.”
Asked what he thought was the value of volunteering in Enderby, in typical JP fashion, he turned the question into a celebration of the other volunteers he works with.
Volunteering in Enderby is “priceless, priceless,” he said. “There are so many things to be done around this place and I am very fortunate to have all of the volunteers who come around to help.”