ESCANABA - The Daily Press and NewPage Volunteer of the Year award will be presented to Paddy Fitch at this evening's Chamber Annual Dinner. For more than 40 years, Fitch has been active in the community through groups like the Boy Scouts, United Way and YMCA.
"I feel totally overwhelmed," said Fitch of winning the award. She was selected from community members who received the Volunteer of the Month award during the last year.
For Fitch, volunteering became a way of life when her children were in school. "What happens is you get interested in something either because your kids are going to do it or because you just get interested in it," she told the Daily Press in September when she received the Volunteer of the Month Award.
Fitch's 42 years of involvement with the Boy Scouts started when she became a den leader for her two then Cub Scout-aged sons. Currently she is the Cubmaster of Pack 411. "Basically I just have fun all day even though I'm doing a lot of work," she said.
The Boy Scouts are not the only group that has benefitted from Fitch's dedication to the community. Both the United Way and YMCA of Delta County can claim Fitch as a driving force in their success.
"Back in the 70s I was part of the group that started the United Way of Delta County," said Fitch. Today Fitch is still active with the group as secretary for the United Way Board of directors.
In the early 80s, Fitch was chosen to spearhead the capital campaign to establish a YMCA in Delta County. The YMCA was established in 1985, and despite the YMCA not having a facility until 1990, Fitch taught swim lessons through the organization by driving from pool to pool across the county.
Now the YMCA has a pool of it's own, where Fitch teaches swimming lessons and water aerobics.
She also serves as the secretary for the YMCA association board, is active in committees, and assists with organizational tasks. "It's just a wonderful opportunity that I'm very thankful for," she said.
Fitch is also active in her church community. She has taught Sunday school at First Presbyterian Church in Escanaba for more than 40 years and is the last remaining original bell ringer in the church's handbell choir.
"I guess what it says is it's hard to get rid of me," said Fitch, noting the handbell choir has been ringing for 32 years.
In addition to her other volunteer activities, Fitch is involved with the Salvation Army, Kiwanis, the Medical Access Coalition, the P.E.O. Sisterhood and the Bay College Foundation Board.
Fitch remains humble in light of receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award. "My goodness, there's lots, and lots, and lots of other volunteers that help make Delta County great," she said, adding she would accept the award on behalf of everyone.