When he first opened the email, Paul Horn couldn’t believe what he was reading. In fact, he had to read it several times to make sure it was true.
“I had to sit down. Literally, it just knocked me off my feet because this is a community where there are so many people doing amazing things that to imagine that I stood out enough this year, in that cohort, is a remarkable feeling,” said Horn.
The honour is part of the annual District of Mission Community Service Awards. Along with Citizen of the Year, the awards are also presented in the categories of Arts and Culture, Community Service, Community Service (under age 25), Crime Prevention and Community Safety, Lifetime Achievement, Special Accomplishment, Sports Volunteer of the Year and Against the Odds Achievement.
The full list of winners is scheduled to be announced on Feb. 15, and an awards ceremony is set for April 7.
Horn has always been active in community projects and says he was raised that way.
“It’s a tradition in my family to give to the community. It’s something I’ve always cared about.”
Currently, Horn is involved with several organizations, including Mission Minor Lacrosse, the Community Wellness Committee and Stone Soup, an initiative to help combat homelessness.
“Stone Soup has been kind of the big thing in my volunteer time and it’s something where I feel there is a sense of urgency. There are real people who are living and dying on our streets,” said Horn.
He believes many people who are forced to sleep on the streets aren’t those who the public generally associate with being homeless. Many are single moms with kids or others who are just struggling to survive.
“Often, it’s people who are kind of hidden away and it’s their children who pay the price.”
Stone Soup encourages local government, service groups and the public to come together to discuss homelessness issues and come up with ideas and initiatives.
“It’s sort of a dream of mine to actually help people who are homeless. I just find it incredibly difficult to imagine that we live in a society where people can be homeless. It just shocks me.”