Bill Mitchell stands at Castonguay Square in downtown Waterville on Wednesday. Mitchell has been recognized by a national magazine for his service to the community. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

GHM Insurance Agency owner Bill Mitchell has been recognized by a national magazine with a community service award for his many contributions to the Alfond Youth & Community Center, downtown Waterville revitalization and his ongoing work to help improve the community.

Rough Notes, published monthly by The Rough Notes Co. Inc., based in Carmel, Indiana, focuses on insurance-related issues involving technology, marketing, leadership and specialty lines. The company itself develops products and solutions that help independent agents operate more efficiently.

Mitchell, GHM’s president and chief executive officer, was chosen from more than 35,000 independent insurance agencies  around the country to receive the Rough Notes Community Service Award and was to have received it in March at Rough Notes’ Agency of the Year Celebration in Indianapolis, but the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. He will, however, be awarded a trophy.

Moreover, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Waterville, which is part of the Alfond Center, will receive a $5,000 check, according to a story Rough Notes published about Mitchell. GHM also wrote a community grant through one of its carriers, Safeco and Liberty Mutual, which donated an additional $5,000 to the Alfond Center for its efforts to serve the community during the pandemic.

The community service award was created by The Rough Notes Co.’s owner and president, Walt Gdowski, and insurance agent Bob Kretzmer, to recognize independent agents for giving back to the community. The winner is chosen from reader nominations, according to the company and magazine.

Mitchell said Wednesday that he is honored and humbled to have been chosen for the award.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to give back to the community that has been so good to me and Vicki, my father and mother, and my family in general,” he said. “It’s all possible because of the amazing team of people that work at GHM, the insurance carriers we represent, our stakeholders and vendors, and most importantly, the ongoing support of our valued customers. This award would not be possible without the help and encouragement of all of them, and so many other people throughout my life.”

Mitchell was nominated for the award by Ken Walsh, chief executive officer of the Alfond Center, located on North Street in Waterville. Walsh and the center sent several letters to Rough Notes, detailing Mitchell’s efforts for the Alfond Center and community.

A story in the May edition of Rough Notes written by Alice Ashby Roettger, says Walsh met Mitchell when Walsh was hired in 1992 to manage the Boys & Girls Clubs in Waterville. The organization was in the red at the time and in danger of closing, and the city itself was dying because mills had closed and people had lost jobs as a result.

Walsh said Mitchell offered to serve on the organization’s board of directors and headed up a capital campaign that garnered more than $10 million, restoring the center’s financial health. He also prompted the merger of the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA into the Alfond Youth Center, marking the first such merger in the country. That center serves 5,000 underprivileged youths. Mitchell had been a member of both organizations when he was young.

Walsh said Mitchell also volunteered to be project manager for construction of the Alfond Center and helped create a planned giving campaign that grew to $22 million.

Mitchell continues to support building projects at the center and hosts an annual golf tournament that has raised more than $500,000 for the Alfond Center’s after-school program. He also donated a telephone system to the center’s summer day camp program, Camp Tracy. Mitchell and his wife raised thousands of dollars for a special backpack program that sends kids home with food, according to Walsh.

As part of efforts to contribute to Waterville’s revitalization, Mitchell purchased and redeveloped buildings in and around downtown and is part owner of The Proper Pig restaurant on Common Street. One of his projects was redeveloping the former American Legion Post on College Avenue and turning it into an event center. His father, the late Paul Mitchell, from whom he took over GHM Agency, and his mother, Yvette, attended dinners and dances at the Legion hall after World War II.

Bill Mitchell has received several community awards over the years, including the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year Award and the Central Maine Growth Council’s Developer of the Year award.

Walsh said Wednesday in a phone interview that he nominated Mitchell for the magazine’s award earlier this year and received a call notifying him that Mitchell had been chosen. Walsh was to have also attended the awards ceremony in Indianapolis, he said.

He said it was easy to put together information to send to Rough Notes as part of the nomination process because the Alfond Center had so many documents about Mitchell and the work he has done for the center over many years.

“I’ve been involved with this organization for over 28 years, and we’ve had volunteers that have been extremely helpful in developing the YMCA and Boys & Girls Club that have come and gone,” Walsh said. “Bill has always been there and I think Bill still shares so many leadership qualities to help us prosper and grow as an organization, but what I’ve seen over time is that he does that in the community, too, and he sincerely cares about Waterville.”

Mitchell has contributed countless hours of volunteer work and deserves the award, according to Walsh.

“He has been a great friend to the organization, a great friend of mine and I’m so happy that he got the award — well deserved,” he said.

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