Sean Mitchell grew up in the Dayton area, but it was only when he decided to stay as an adult that he truly fell in love with the city.
“You start noticing the little things you took for granted,” he said.
Dayton is a place where strangers soon become friends, and Mitchell realized it is the people that make the city such a great place to live.
Now he is a major proponent of the area, supporting Dayton businesses, organizations, bars and restaurants. He enjoys acting as a connector in a place with such diversity and opportunity, where a 20-minute drive can take you to a suburb, a farm, an industrial area or a military base.
“You have so many different perspectives and concepts,” he said.
Mitchell has been able to connect with others through his volunteer work, as well as through jobs at local nonprofit organizations, which sparked his interest in reentry work. Now he helps in another way, as a probation officer with the Montgomery County Municipal Court.
Evelyn Ritzi, who nominated Mitchell as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem, got to know him while she was a volunteer at Daybreak, which serves youth experiencing homelessness. Mitchell worked there at the time, and they have kept in touch ever since.
“He’s just one of those people that make Dayton such a great place and a welcoming place to be,” said Ritzi, of the Huber Heights area.
Mitchell connects with people not only to make friends, but also to better understand the residents in the home that he loves, she said. He will talk to people for hours, getting to know them and understanding who they are. He ties together the community and wants to bring out the best in others.
Mitchell is both compassionate and humble, she said. He doesn’t do things to attract attention to himself, but he doesn’t hesitate to shine a spotlight on Dayton, even telling strangers on social media why the city is such a great place to call home, Ritzi said.
“He really just wants to see Dayton succeed – in particular, the people of Dayton,” she said.
Growing up in Miami County, Mitchell would visit downtown Dayton now and then. But it wasn’t until after he attended college in Toledo and moved back to the Miami Valley that he started to see the city in a different light. As a 20-something he sometimes felt there wasn’t much to do. No longer.
“The true reality is there is so much going on,” said Mitchell, 37, who now lives in the Oregon District.
He said that Dayton offers just as much – or more – to do compared to larger cities, although residents might have to look harder here to find it. Plus, if an event isn’t already created, residents here have the chance to build it themselves.
Mitchell said his life isn’t driven by money or status or power. Instead, he is energized by connecting people within the community and seeing what results from it. Dayton is full of opportunities for its residents, and Mitchell is ready to spread the word.
“You’re going to have a good time and a life well-lived,” he said.
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