‘I Could Now Give Back’

By Sheryl Luongo, Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department

I have to admit that my original reason for becoming a volunteer was selfish. My youngest child had just left for college and I was alone with no one around who needed me. I had to find some way to spend this newly found free time.

I could now give back to the town where my children grew up and a town that I had grown to love.

I joined our volunteer ambulance corps and knew immediately that being a volunteer in the emergency services was my calling. I could now give back to the town where my children grew up and a town that I had grown to love.

Within a few months of joining, I received my EMT certificate and worked my way up the ladder to the position of Captain. Then I met the man of my dreams who was a volunteer firefighter in the same town.

We married and in order to spend more time together, I joined the volunteer fire department. Once again, a selfish act. But, once again, I was surprised to see how at ease I felt being a firefighter. Because I was 57 when I joined, I decided being an interior firefighter was not for me. So, I took classes and became an exterior firefighter.

While my fellow firefighters are attacking a fire from the inside, I am free to help as much as I can on the outside. If that means attacking a fire from the exterior, replacing empty air bottles, retrieving a tool or rolling hose, I can make a difference.

I am now 61 and still very active in the volunteer services. Not only does it keep me in shape, but I have also made new friends and continue to learn and grow in my newly found pastime. It is never too late to give back and volunteer your time.