James Deconinck has a passion for helping youth and civic duty.
These passions are reflected in the multiple volunteer initiatives he is involved with. The list is varied and about “the length of your arm,” said John Stanczyk, president of the Delhi and District Chamber of Commerce.
It is also the reason why Deconinck has been named this year's Citizen of the Year by the chamber.
“It's really humbling to be honest,” said Deconinck from his home in Delhi. “For me being 28, it was like wow, I don't know if I have a shot. These other (winners) have a lifetime of helping the community.”
He may be young, but volunteering has been ingrained into his life from a young age. His mother is a member of the local Catholic Women's League and his father is a member of the Knights of Columbus, as is Deconinck.
“I just find so much joy in helping people. Just getting the satisfaction of seeing a smile on someone's face,” he said.
Deconinck has been a member of the Delhi Community Policing Committee since 2009 and last year became a member of the Norfolk County OPP Auxiliary because of his interest in a career in policing.
“I've been in the pursuit of a career in policing since I graduated university,” explain Deconinck. “This is a great experience. I get to go on ride- a-longs on regular patrols...It is a good learning experience for me and also, to make sure this is something I want to do. It has been something I've wanted to do pretty much my whole life.”
Deconinck helped organize and run the Auxiliary unit's food and toy drive in Delhi at Christmas.
He is also involved with the Haldimand-Norfolk R.E.A.C.H Youth Justice Committee, which deals with troubled youth to help divert them from the justice system and is a group leader with the Simcoe Gospel Chapel's youth group, Awana, along with his wife Kelli.
“We really enjoy it and you can see they (the youth) really enjoy it,” he said. “We try to get involved in things together so we don't have to spend time apart.”
Deconinck said it is thanks to his wife, family, his boss at Jansen Landscaping and his faith in God that allow him to be involved in so many different organizations.
“I'm thankful for God for giving me the skills and the support of my family to allow me to volunteer. Without God I wouldn't do what I do,” he said.
However, with a new baby boy in the family, he will finally have to say no when people ask.
“I think I'm going to have to not get into anything more. For me, I'm one of those people that hates to say no when I am asked to do something,” he said.
His assistance is certainly appreciated in the community with a handful of nominations from various groups.
Jennifer VanDeVelde wrote in her nomination letter, “James is well respected throughout our entire community – he never quits, he always gives 100% and he is the kind of person you want your children to look up to.”
519-426-3528 ext. 112