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Tri-State volunteers too busy to observe summit

April 28, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Hagerstown Fire Police Capt. Marvin Niswander was too busy with his volunteer work Sunday to follow the activities at the national volunteer summit in Philadelphia.

Niswander was out Sunday helping with traffic for people volunteering in a walk-a-thon fund raiser while President Clinton was joined by former presidents George Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford at the volunteer summit in Philadelphia.

Throughout the Tri-State area Sunday, volunteers said they liked attention being given to the work done by people like them.

"That's great," Niswander said. "We need it because we're trying to get members now."

Niswander said it's becoming harder to find people willing to donate their time.

"The first thing out of their mouths is `What's the pay?' " Niswander said.

"If they've got the time, they should pick a job they want to do and volunteer whether it's Boy Scouts or whatever," Niswander said.

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Niswander said he's been a volunteer for the past 25 years, first as a firefighter then as a fire police officer.

Blue Ridge Mountain Fire Chief Scott Knill had a training video playing on his television Sunday afternoon instead of the Summit for America's Future.

Knill hopes the national attention will bring in more firefighters to his Jefferson County company.

"In Jefferson County, volunteers are real important for fire companies and ambulance services," Knill said.

Knill said he had always wanted to be a firefighter while growing up.

"When I turned 16, it was a chance for me to join the fire company," Knill said. "The only reward you get out of it is trying to protect and save lives. It makes it worthwhile to me."

Dewey Lockwood, 77, a volunteer with the Washington County chapter of the American Red Cross blood mobile, said he started volunteering shortly after retiring from Mack Trucks in 1977.

The country needs more volunteers and he thinks the summit is a good way to get people involved.

"I think that it might help the country a whole lot," Lockwood said. "Clinton has a lot of good people there and it might encourage others to volunteer."

But Dorothy "Dot" Montgomery, 53, of Charles Town, said she doesn't think the government should get involved in encouraging volunteerism.

"I feel the government should get out of this. I don't think the government should be telling us to do this," Montgomery said. "I don't know who they think they are, our mothers?"

Montgomery was out Saturday morning with other volunteers cleaning up a section of U.S. 340 in Jefferson County as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program. She also volunteers as a reading tutor in Loudoun County.

Other volunteers thought the summit was a great idea.

"I'm all for it," said Rayetta Schindel, chair of volunteers at the Washington County chapter of the American Red Cross. "I think everyone should do it."

About 1,200 people volunteer for the Washington County chapter in various posts, from blood drives to disaster services, said Schindel, 54, of Hagerstown.

"We couldn't function without volunteers. It is primarily all done by volunteers," Schindel said.

Waynesboro Fire Co. firefighter Monte Rosenberry, 29, of Waynesboro, Pa., said he likes the idea of national attention being paid to volunteers.

"I think it's great. There's not enough doing it," Rosenberry said.

Rosenberry said too many people want something out of it, while volunteering has to be its own reward.

That's something Denise Beck understands.

Beck, 33, of Waynesboro, was up late Saturday night as chair of the American Cancer Society Auction, which raised $63,000.

For months, she had volunteered "countless" hours of time helping organize the auction.

"Today I'm on cloud nine finding out what we did with the auction," Beck said.

She has survived cancer twice, once when she was 16 and again four years ago, Beck said.

By raising the money that will go to cancer research and other programs, Beck said she is giving back to her community.

Andy Russell, 62, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said he expects an "eternal reward."

He volunteers as a Sunday school teacher and at the nursery at the South Berkeley Baptist Church in Inwood, W.Va.

He also drives church members to doctor's appointments and provides other volunteer services when needed. Russell said he believes in tithing his money and his time.

"I have one desire and that is when I die I stand before God in judgment and he would say, `Well done, my good and faithful servant.'"

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