Babylon Village native John Fitts began volunteering at community events and helping out local organizations before he was out of elementary school and he hasn’t stopped four decades later.
As friends describe him, he’s the guy everyone sees working the fundraiser, helping at the local school game or is cleaning up behind the scenes at various events but many likely don’t know his name.
As one fan says, if there was an image of the word ‘volunteer’ in the dictionary it would be Fitts’ headshot.
He is, as Aaron Stein said during a recent award ceremony honoring Fitts as the recipient of the Nathaniel Conklin Award for Volunteerism, the epitome of what community service truly means and what the spirit of volunteerism is all about.
Fitts has helped scouting troops, the local little league, the beautification society, the soccer club, the American Legion, the United Methodist Church, food pantries and just pretty much anything that needed some helping hands.
And, as many people note, he does it with intense humbleness and is clearly not comfortable about talking about all his work for his community. Reverend Lang, of the United Methodist Church, said Fitts “does it all and he does it quietly and never looks for accolades.”
But everyone else has no trouble proclaiming adoration for Fitts and his tireless volunteer work.
“It is a wonderful experience knowing him,” says Betty Siegel, who has also been awarded the Conklin award.
As another fan noted, Fitts represents what every small town should be about: “nice people doing nice things for each other.”
Suffolk County Legislator Wayne Horsley, who spoke at the award ceremony, said Fitts is always apologetic when he can’t help out, which is always more than likely to due to another community support commitment.
“He is the pick of the volunteer world,” said Horsley. “When I think of the word volunteer I immediately think of John,” he added.
Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino, who has known Fitts for nearly 50 years, remembers watching Fitts help out as a kid on the little league fields and always being there to do something good.
“You look around and this is a community of volunteers and it’s one of the big reasons we live here and love this community,” Scordino stated during the awards event. “John is the quiet guy who puts in so many hours and most people don’t even know.”