Watch above: Part of what keeps him going is a lifelong commitment to helping others. Robin Gill has this week’s Everyday Hero.
In more than a century of life, Fred Titcomb has amassed quite a number of stories. But throughout all his stories one theme remains close to his heart — volunteering.
Born on the kitchen table in Moose Jaw, Sask., just two days after the sinking of the Titanic, Titcomb has lived history, including through two world wars and the Great Depression.
For longer than many people have been alive the 102-year-old has been volunteering in the community.
“My mother was a great volunteer,” he told Global News She did everything for the Church… and I guess I followed along with her you know,” said Titcomb.
In fact he’s been volunteering in just his West Vancouver community for 75 years now.
“One of his earliest contributions to the community was to be on the volunteer fire department,” his son Brent Titcomb said.
Back then, volunteer firefighters were the only line of defense and Titcomb took on a lead role.
When volunteers were no longer needed in the fire department he turned his attention to other volunteer work.
When Titcomb reached what many would consider retirement age, 35 years ago, he didn’t really retire instead he devoted his time to volunteering full-time at the West Vancouver Seniors Centre.
He started out decorating floats for community days and working on plans to help build the seniors centre into what it is today. But, he was and soon helping others at the centre just by lending an ear and some inspiring words.
“I got to a point where my doctor friend used to give me a call the odd time and he’d have somebody that had lost a wife or something, a man that was just sitting around… and he’d phone me and Fred he’d say, could you talk to this fella? and I’d say sure I’d be glad to.”
Titcomb shows no signs of slowing down either. Even at 102 he still greets everyone with a wide grin and a spring in his step.
These days he doesn’t do the decorations or as much physical activity.
“I am getting tired and my health is not the greatest,” he said.
So, instead he now settles himself at his computer, for half days, Monday to Friday for half — deftly clicking away at the keyboard, building excel spreadsheets, typing up notes, creating and designing menus and collecting statistics.
It’s all vital to the running of the centre and all jobs that even people half his age sometimes have difficulty mastering.
“There are very, very few people who volunteer that long and at that age. Not just volunteers but is doing a job that has to be done,” says his longtime friend Frank Kurucz.
Jill Lawlor, the West Vancouver Senior’s Centre recreation manager agreed.
“When he is here, there is an uplift in the office,” she said. “People are inspired to see that a man at 102, who drives in on his own volition… has his own office, takes care of our administrative duties and can contribute so much to the community.”
For working tirelessly and inspiring so many others Titcomb has won many awards along the way, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and most recently the BC Community achievement Award for 2014.
But, it is simply the love of the work and helping others that keeps him motivated and keeps him coming in every single day at 8:30 a.m. sharp.
“My worst days in the week are Saturday and Sunday which I don’t come in,” he says.
Having just celebrated his 102nd birthday this April, Titcomb is looking forward to much more volunteering at the centre.
“Fred is one of those guys who will get up in front of any group and talk about the benefits of volunteering … and why people should give back to their community,” Lawlor said.
“Just to dedicate his life to his community and to the centre, I think that’s really special,” Kurucz said. “Most people are just taking from the community but Fred is completely at the other end. He gives a lot and takes very little.”
WHAT MAKES AN EVERYDAY HERO?
There are many people trying to make a difference who rarely receive the media attention they deserve. Everyday Hero is our attempt to provide better balance in our newscast. We profile Canadians who don’t go looking for attention, but deserve it. People who through their ideas, effort and dedication are making a difference in the lives of other people.
If you know of an Everyday Hero whose story we should tell, share the information with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
© Shaw Media, 2014