PICTURE THE HUB: GIVING TIME
Editor's note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
I'm Dan Olivier. I volunteer with the Westwood Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and I also volunteer with the Westwood planning board.
On the ambulance corps we respond to emergencies. Once we get a call from the police department we are sent out to wherever the location might be and whether it be somebody that had an accident or somebody might have fallen or just has a health issue we're they're when they're concerned. We do some vital checks on them and and we take them to the hospital.
The planning board is a lot of fun. It's for when people or businesses, file applications seeking a permit or a variance approval. So we see we hear applications from either homeowners or business owners that want to do changes to their homes or businesses. And we hear their cases that are submitted by attorneys and they bring professional planners and their engineers and architects and we listen to their application, then we make decisions on whether or not that the changes that they want to make are consistent with what we have in our master plan.
Volunteering for the ambulance corps came about when I was very moved by the town's overwhelming, outgoing, emotional response to our member of our community, Chris Herbk had passed - he had died in Afghanistan. He was a Marine, and the town just all came out. I never saw so many American flags in one place at one time, and it was just very moving. And I wanted to volunteer just to feel you know, like I could give something as well.
What brought me to the planning board was basically there's a need for volunteers for lot of different functions in the in the community. But the planning board was a place where they needed some alternate members and somebody had recommended me to the chairperson and I had spoken with them and then I met with the mayor at the time was Tom Warner and I became a member back then just basically because there was a need. So I decided it would be fun to learn the way the inner workings of landuse works in town. And so that was about 17 years ago, and I'm Vice Chairman of the planning board now underneath the chairman who's been there for I think 30 years. Chairman Hodges, which is actually Jaymee Hodges. So we have a good board.
I'm a certified driver for the ambulance corps. I need to be certified for CPR and also as a driver. I also have to be updated and certified for hazmat and other requirements to be an active riding member on the corps. So I've been on the corps for 12 years.
I'm on a lot of committees and on five committees among the Board of Trustees for the Ambulance Corps as well. It's very challenging, but it's rewarding because you feel like you're giving and you're doing a lot for the community. I can't particularly say anything is a favorite. I guess, when you're actually called out to help someone and you're responding to an emergency, I guess you know, in a way while you never want to be called out, and you don't want anybody to actually need you. But if you're helping and that's the reason why we all join, then that's the best part -- when you feel that you're helping out someone.
I think during the past two years, I've been impacted and I think I've been very helpful, extra helpful, more than ever before. There's been a few members who have really stepped up and gave even more of themselves because so many others couldn't, you know, give of themselves and their time because of various reasons with with COVID. So I'd say the last two years have been most impactful and most rewarding where I feel like I've definitely given the most of myself you know, but especially being on the board of trustees trying to negotiate all of the different issues that come before us.
If you don't think you have the time to volunteer? I think you do. I think you do because when you look at how much time is spent doing other things that really don't matter so much. You could take a little bit of time away from other things and just give a little bit of time to whatever it is that you want to volunteer for. But it's absolutely essential if you care about your community. You should volunteer wherever and whenever you can. And a little bit goes a long way. If everybody volunteered just a little bit of time. We wouldn't have the kind of need that we really have now, and it's extreme right now what kind of you know, we need we have for volunteers, especially on the ambulance corps. We're trying to expand and maybe even go into other towns. Even paid services are also in great need of people so that if anybody is thinking about volunteer wants to volunteer, I would suggest the ambulance corps is a great place to do it. It's a great family of people we all get along great and look, look out for each other. It's just a great, great second family kind of thing to have.
I bought my first house in 2000 in Westwood, I'm still there. And I think it's the best town there is to live in because basically it's the people, it's the community and I feel that strongly about it. Every year I'm here it gets better and better and it's because of people stepping up and helping out. I've met a lot of great people working for the borough or the DPW or being on the planning board. I've met council and administration in town. They're all great. And that's what I think what makes Westwood, you know, better than any other town around here. That's for sure.
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