2006 Citizen of The Year
John Campau Dedicated to Helping the Community, John George Home.
By Paul Overeiner
January 1, 2006
John Campau learned early it is better to give than receive when he was growing up on Oakhill Street.
John Campau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Comtronics, is the 2006 Citizen of the Year.
His first charitable mission began as a boy of 10 when he began caring for “Miss Zell,” an elderly neighbor who lived down the street. Campau ran errands for her, mowed her lawn, shoveled her walk and even helped rescue her when she fell in her home.
“I enjoyed doing that,” Campau recalled. “It made me feel good at the end of the day."
Since then Campau’s mission has expanded exponentially he is a contributor to and involved in more than 20 agencies or organizations with direct stakes in making Jackson a better place.
Campau, 43, is the Citizen Patriots 2006 Citizen of the Year. He was awarded the honor for his community service work, most notably his efforts this year to save the John George Home for elderly men.
Carrie Good, John George Home administrator, said Campau was essential in helping the facility get back on its feet.
“He got volunteers for us, nurses’ aides - just people to give us a foundation for our beginning here," Good said. “He came every single day to make sure the home was running smoothly. When we couldn't make it, he was there for us and he really made a difference in turning this home around."
Campau is president and chief executive officer of Comtronics, a Jackson-based security and communications company with 125 employees serving more than 30,000 customers in nine states.
Campau credits his mother for reinforcing the importance of helping others.
“I think the earliest memory of philanthropy was my mother. She was always helping the disadvantaged,” Campau said.
In the 1970's Artemia Campau founded and operated “Operation Blessing," a nonprofit association dedicated to helping Jackson citizens in need.
“That really opened my eyes to the whole idea of helping others,” Campau said.
Perhaps thats another reason Campau’s thirst for community involvement seems to match or even succeed his commitment to growing his business.
A partial listing of that commitment includes serving as a sponsor of the Hot Air and the Western Schools job Shadowing Program; corporate and team sponsor of the Wendy's LPGA Pro-Am Charity Classic Adoption Benefit event; a corporate and team sponsor with junior Achievement; and a fïve-year Partner with Youth sponsor at the YMCA.
Campau recently enlisted as a volunteer/team leader to raise funds for a new dining hall at the Boy Scouts of America's Camp Teetonkah.
A friend and co-worker, Anne Walker White, has a simple explanation.
“It’s his generous spirit; that’s what drives it all," said White, Comtronics’ vice president and general counsel.
Campau said it does take time, and a little juggling to serve all his commitments.
Ric Walton, who serves with Campau on the United Way board, said that commitment is whole hearted.
“John brings a lot of good ideas and enthusiasm to whatever he gets involved in," Walton said. “He just doesn’t go through the motions; he really puts his time, and his heart, and his money into it."
Why take on so much?
"I like having a diverse reach in the community,” Campau said. "I don’t like championing one cause."
If there is a common denominator to Campau’s community outreach program it's kids, from adoption support to education. One big exception to the theme, of course, is Jackson's john George Home.
The John George Home fell on hard times in recent years, and Campau, a 14-year member of the she1ter's board of directors and current board president, became the point man to save it from closing.
It may well have been his biggest challenge.
Within months of becoming board president in November 2003, Campau was awash in a host of issues, including employee theft, mounting debt, license violations, and ultimately, threats from the state to close the facility.
“I knew if the John George Home closed there wouldn’t be another; those 35 residents would not have another place to live," Campau said.
Campau largely replaced staff, launched fundraising efforts and mounted a publicity campaign to enlist community support.
He even went so far as to contribute thousands of dollars out of his own pocket. Today the facility is functioning with 20 employees and at its full capacity of 35 residents.
At least part of Campau’s commitment to causes like the john George Home can be laid upon his deep Christian faith. He is a member of the Queen of the Miraculous Medal Parish, a Lumen Christi High School graduate and is a founding member of the Father Coyle Society at Lumen Christi.
“I feel we really need to help others become the best they can,” Campau said. “I have a deep Catholic faith, and l have a deep desire to help other people."
Reprinted with permission from The Jackson Citizen Patriot
Copyright January 2006