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Small Town, Big Time Volunteering: A Window into Haddam’s Volunteerism, Part I

Written by Meghan Peterson.

Haddam is unique: vast geography, fairly small population. These are just some of the reasons why people love this town, live in it, and volunteer for the community.

From firefighting services to youth & family programming to public health initiatives, Haddam’s own take care of this beautiful town and the fellow residents who live and participate in it.

Time after time, this is the common thread uniting the wide variety of volunteer entities in Haddam: people helping their fellow residents. Along the way, Haddam volunteers find themselves forming friendships, acquiring important skill sets, and recognizing the value of serving others.

This story takes a quick peek at just some of the wonderful volunteer organizations throughout town. It is the first article in a multi-part series. Part One looks at the Haddam Volunteer Fire Company, H-K Youth and Family Services, Haddam Public Health, and H-K Recreation Department.

20150925_164420According to John Kuzminski, Haddam Volunteer Fire Company (HVFC) Lieutenant and chairman of its membership committee, the 40 or so men and women who volunteer have become a brotherhood and sisterhood – an “extended family.” Speaking of the company’s selfless dedication to serve Haddam, Mr. Kuzminski notes that this closely-knit group of individuals are on call 24/7/365. The fact that these volunteers go to baseball games, vacations, and weekend gatherings together is a testament to the invaluable alliances developed amongst the company. Joining together to respond to those emergency calls rain, shine, or snow, the men and women of HVFC have likewise come together in friendship and in community. Even in tough economic times, in which volunteers are sometimes hard to come by, the people of HFVC are committed, giving hours of their time to serve. HVFC has been answering the call to service since its inception in 1930. Want a real birds-eye view into what this amazing company does? Every Monday night after 7pm, the company welcomes “pop-ins.” That is, folks can stop by and see what HFVC is all about by observing its drills. HFVC welcomes people from the surrounding towns as well – including Middletown. Interested in becoming a part of this organization? People can locate information on their website. In addition, the company has its own Facebook page.pumpkinrun2015.jpg

Ever wonder about the organizational energy behind Youth and Family Services? Depending on the events and programs offered at the time, H-K Youth and Family Services has 2-5 volunteers who help make important events happen. According to H-K YFS Executive Director, Deborah Kelly, the agency counts on volunteers to help with many events – among them the senior information expo, family movie night, family Olympics, and family dinner night. Volunteers also provide crucial assistance with the fundraising events such as the 5K race. Kelly believes that volunteerism helps to instill importance of community. In addition, the critical mass of volunteers enables the agency to expand programming and offerings throughout the year. Indeed, Kelly explains that volunteers are the vital individuals who make H-K YFS events happen and continue. The organization spreads the word for volunteers and events through word of mouth, school flyers, and local publications. Interested in providing a helping hand? Check out their website to see all the fun programs it offers and important work it continues to do.

annexDid you know that the board of Haddam Public Health is comprised of volunteers? According to Candice Casale, (RSN, BSN), Public Health Coordinator, Haddam Public Health  has 12 individuals – most of whom are retired – dedicate their time to the many initiatives HPH pursues. They spend countless hours year-round focusing on various service programs. For example, HPH volunteers help to sort food for the food bank, drive people to their medical doctor appointments, assist with the annual flu clinic, help to pack and deliver food boxes at Thanksgiving and Christmas, man the office when needed. Confidentiality of HPH clients is of utmost priority, and the volunteers play a key role in maintaining privacy. When people drop off food, Casale has them come between 8-9am; food pick-up meanwhile occurs between 9-noon. This ensures that people do not pass one another and helps to secure confidentiality. In Casale’s view, volunteering is “good in all sizes of towns or cities.” She notes that many Haddam residents have been or are involved with various community organizations and services. Casale adds that another resource to turn to for assistance with snow removal, leaf clean-up, children’s clothes, and the like is Helping Hands Ministry at Valley Bible. Resources like these and HPH mean that “[n]ot only are we helping our town…but it allows us to meet people we may have never met otherwise.” Casale’s own children were raised to volunteer, assisting her in delivering meals to families throughout town. Casale believes it is so important for kids to learn the value of volunteering and service to their fellow residents. For more information about Haddam Public Health, check out  this link.

Haddam-Killingworth Recreation Department provides fun activities – from sports to camps to dance – year round. As with the other organizations discussed above, volunteerism is a central component for H-K Rec. According to Robyne Brennan, Director of Recreation, 40 volunteer coaches staffed the Youth Basketball League. 26 volunteers coached the Youth Soccer League this past fall. In any given summer, 10-15 student volunteers help out with camps and other sports activities. They can obtain their community service hours through the volunteer work they do for H-K Rec. Parents from Haddam and Killingworth volunteer frequently, helping to coach for their kids’ teams and leagues. In fact, Brennan notes that it would be quite expensive to run programs without volunteers. The success of H-K Rec depends in great part on parent and teen volunteers. With the great assistance of volunteers, H-K Rec is able to expand their offerings and run programs for a larger number of community youth. Interested in becoming a part of the vibrant programs at H-K Rec? People can locate information on the departments’ website at http://www.hkrec.com.

In gathering insights from these leaders of key organizations in town, it is clear that the people of Haddam help their community in any way they can. Small town, but big-time volunteerism.

 

 

 

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One Response to Small Town, Big Time Volunteering: A Window into Haddam’s Volunteerism, Part I

  1. Ed Munster

    February 29, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Clearly, volunteers are critical to the fabric of our town. Many groups raise and accept contributions from town residents and also receive some funding from the town as well. These groups can be supported by our volunteer efforts, with our checkbooks and with our town budget. Support the volunteers!