Town Council Candidates: Rewarding Volunteer Work (Q #3 from myveronanj)

Question 3:  What has been your most rewarding volunteer service experience, in or out of Verona, and why?

Jack McEvoy: Knowing so many of the volunteers that are involved throughout our town makes me realize that the opportunities and organizations span a broad spectrum of areas and touch almost everyone. Many residents sit on boards,
coach teams, organize events that help others, hold fundraisers and more. Others may volunteer quietly by helping an elderly neighbor to clean their yard, shovel snow or to take in their garbage cans. The services, assistance and comfort that volunteers provide for our Town are what make Verona a “Hometown”.

As a kid delivering papers in Verona, I would often see neighbors in need of help. Stopping to assist them was second nature. I’ve brought that disposition forward with me to this day. I will often help out a neighbor with a quick repair or some yard work, taking a little bit of time out of my day to help make their day easier. Some volunteer activities however are collaborative efforts, comprised of many different people or groups coming together. These efforts and their achievements can extend services or aid to many more people and to future generations of residents.

One such project that I consider to be the most rewarding was the building of Grove Park on Grove Avenue. This project began as an idea by Gloria Machnowski, Chairwoman of the Verona Environmental Commission and evolved quickly into a town-wide effort to preserve green space, create a usable pocket park and to give historical meaning to a site where Dr. Whitehorne once lived.

I loved the idea of this. The plans, drafted by Jimmy Loudon showed a pathway leading into the woods along with installed signage, benches and plantings. The notion that I could be part of this effort, and then become woven into the fabric of our town was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I jumped at the chance to help create this new site in our town.

The Verona Junior Women’s club and the Verona Historic Society were kindly donors both in financial assistance as well as with hands-on efforts during the clean- up events. The Verona Department of Public Works were of amazing assistance, delivering supplies, picking up waste, and aiding every step of the way. Finally the neighbors of this new park were remarkably giving of their time, resources and blessings for the park’s creation.

My role in the construction of this park was to build the walkways and to install both the historical marker and the wayside signage. The project took about one month and incorporated an ADA compliant entrance to the park’s trail. Mr. Bill Knight, a neighbor of the park, enthusiastically donated his electricity and running water, all necessary resources in the installation process.

Driving by this park daily, seeing people outside, visiting, reading the marker or just sitting on the bench makes this my most rewarding volunteer project. Adding a new green space in Verona for generations to come is the greatest reward.

Before closing, I can’t help but to also mention how rewarding it is to be serving on the Hillwood Terrace Board for the past 15+ years. Although serving on a board is typically a ‘behind the scenes’ type of volunteerism, each year, the Board holds an annual Holiday party for all the residents. Celebrating with them and seeing the joy on their faces is immeasurably rewarding. This is one volunteer event that I greatly miss due to the Hillwood’s ownership changes over the past few years.

When you pour through our local news sources, it’s amazing at just how many charitable events and volunteer opportunities that are available to our residents every single day. The first thing a Verona resident should say to their neighbor is “Thank You”, because it’s highly likely that they have lent to the spirit of our town, a spirit of giving and volunteering to help others.