CK Citizen of the Year hopes to instill the importance of helping others

JP Huggins DJing at the last Festival of Giving. (Photo courtesy of JP Huggins).

A local resident who has been heavily involved in several community events and initiatives said he is both shocked and humbled to be named Chatham-Kent’s Citizen of the Year.

The Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce recently announced recipients of the 133rd Annual Business Excellence Awards.

Jon Paul (JP) Huggins was named Citizen of the Year. Huggins has organized and participated in several events such as Blenheim Cherry Fest, the Festival of Giving, The May 16th Miracle, and The Gift.

“There are so many awesome and deserving people in CK. So many deserving people who just constantly pour out love and just help people relentlessly that could have won this award,” he said. “It’s really exciting!”

Huggins said he was nominated for the award by a friend of his, Theresa (Terry) Kelly. Huggins thanked a lot of people who have mentored him, but also his own family as his wife and four sons have dedicated a lot of time to community events.

“A lot of the time, I’m kind of the face of different events but they’re putting in tons of hours and tons of work as well,” he said. “This isn’t just for me … It’s not a one-person thing, it’s a team effort.”

Huggins said he hopes the work he and his wife do has a positive influence on their sons, who range from 17 to 11 years of age.

“Helping people out, caring for people… it brings such pure joy and happiness,” he said. “I teach them, it doesn’t matter how much money you make or where you work or anything else… just be kind, and love, and give.”

Aside from community initiatives, Huggins said he spent most of the past year trying to help residents in a safe and socially distanced way by speaking to them over the phone and picking up groceries.

Huggins said he is looking forward to when people can get together again for major community events but it may be too late to see some of the popular summer-time festivals this year.

“It’s not looking like there’s going to be a lot of big outdoor events this summer,” he said. “I’m not 100 per cent sure about Cherry Fest … It’s getting kind of late at this point. Usually, with Cherry Fest, I start organizing in October or November of the year before so even if every safety measure was lifted in the next two weeks… to organize a three-day festival with all of the rides and everything, it’s getting kind of late for that.”

Other award recipients highlighted by the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce include Alex Wingrove for Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Rachel Schwarz for Entrepreneur of the Year, Tanya Sinnett for Business Individual of the Year, Devos Furniture for Business of the Year (Small), and Handy Bros ClimateCare for Business of the Year (Medium).

A virtual award ceremony is scheduled for June 17 at 7 p.m.