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95-year-old has volunteered in Mission for close to half a century

Justine Dickinson celebrated her 95th birthday surrounded by her 'second family'

There was something different about the atmosphere inside the Cottage Thrift Store in downtown Mission.

Customers came in, shopped for some great deals, and left again. However, there was a sense of excitement in the air, almost a celebratory feeling.

Three Mission RCMP officers came in, went to the back room and eventually came out smiling and laughing.


They just met Justine Dickinson.

Dickinson was standing in the back room of the store, surrounded by friends, co-workers and other well-wishers as she celebrated her 95th birthday on June 29.

The nonagenarian has been a fixture at the thrift store for almost 50 years and is still volunteering her time with the Mission Health Care Auxiliary.

It all began in 1975 when Dickinson’s daughter, Loretta – a candystriper – suggested that her mom should volunteer with the auxiliary.

“She said ‘Mom you have to join the Hospital Auxiliary, they have so much fun there.’ and I said I’m a busy mom, I’m too busy,” recalled Dickinson.

However, after getting some paperwork filled out, Dickinson decided to attend a meeting to see what it was all about.

During the meeting, one of the volunteers said they heard Dickinson was an avid gardener.

“They asked me what I grew and all I said was flowers. I was so nervous, but they made me feel welcome.”

Although she was a little anxious, Dickinson said she knew she was in the right place and decided to stay.

“I worked mostly on cash. I like the cash. I still do cash, I’m the cashier and that’s my favourite job,” she explained.

Now, 49 years later, you can still find Dickinson sitting by the cash register, waiting to help customers.

“I still enjoy it as much as ever, even more. You see before, I was younger. Now my family is all far away in Alberta and Dawson Creek. So this is my second family.”

Dickinson said the thrift store is the most wonderful place to work and they help the community.

Despite turning 95, Dickinson still has her zest for life. She said she still has a glass of wine when she gets home — one glass. She also takes care of herself.

“What I think is the most wonderful thing to do is go to the pool and swim as long as you can. When you have aches and pains, nothing hurts you. Nothing hurts you in the pool.”

Dickinson still lives independently and does her own housework and cooking. She goes for walks as much as she can.

As for being a volunteer, she says everyone should do it.

“I still enjoy coming to work,” she said.

In fact, she usually comes in early so she can talk to her second family.

Kevin Mills

About the Author: Kevin Mills

I have been a member of the media for the past 35 years and became editor of the Mission Record in February of 2015.
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