Lloyd Mitchell is rarely at a loss for words, but he walked into unfamiliar territory Wednesday.
Led to believe he was attending a meeting at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, he was shocked when he was surrounded by family, dignitaries and media to announce he’s Vernon’s 2010 Good Citizen of the Year.
“He can’t be speechless. I don’t believe it,” said Marion, his wife of 55 years.
With his eyes welling up with tears, Mitchell, 79, listened as the Junior Chamber International read his lengthy list of accomplishments during the more than 45 years that he has called Vernon home.
They include founding the Vernon Learn and Disability Group, co-chairing the Vernon Prostate Cancer Support Group, organizing the Do It For Dad prostate cancer awareness run, serving on the John Howard Society board and volunteering with Big Brothers and My School.
“I’ve been fortunate to be of service to Vernon,” said the father of four sons and grandfather of 10.
“I’ve had a fortunate life in Vernon and serving others has been a big part of that.”
A retired educator, Mitchell has also voluntarily tutored adults who have difficulty reading or writing or need help selecting a new career path.
He has served as a warden, Sunday school superintendent, choir member and participant in the men’s club at All Saints Anglican Church. He also helped the church host the soup kitchen for four years.
But Mitchell’s activities haven’t been limited to just Vernon.
He visited Mexico to build houses for several families.
When asked why he gives of himself, Mitchell says, “I do it because I see a need and in certain instances, there is no service being put forward.”
But when pushed as to what he gets personally out of volunteering, Mitchell speaks of a man he recently encouraged to take a prostate cancer exam.
“He had the PSA test and two weeks later, I got an e-mail saying, ‘Thanks for saving my life.’ He didn’t have prostate cancer but he had another cancer. That’s thanks enough.”
Mitchell has made a significant impression on people throughout the community.
“He’s a tremendous individual,” said Ken Waldon, who is part of the Do It For Dad organizing committee.
“He’s done a great deal for the prostate cancer group. He’s very tenacious.”
Pat Hesketh, whose late husband Bill founded Howard House, has been a family friend for years.
“We have always appreciated Lloyd’s loyalty, values, wisdom, kindness, ability to get along with people of all ages and backgrounds, and his sense of humour,” she said.
As Good Citizen, Mitchell will take part in the Vernon Winter Carnival parade and Winter Breakout.