VVFD 2013 award winners are Gene Jacob, Firefighter of the Year; Nathan Hellman, Emergency Technician of the Year (EMT); Bill Padgett and Eric Bartholomew, Fairfax County Rescue Department Fire and Technician, Chief's Award; Monica Haley, President's Award; Hanna Mitchell, Department Certificate of Appreciation; Judi Medwedeff, Department Volunteer of the Year; Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department Technician Giovanni Vasquez, Robert Hunter Award; Joan Dempsey, the Leon Freeman Award; Bill Droke, Auxiliary Certificate of Appreciation; Bill Padgett (Department) and Peggie Murray (Auxiliary, Kate Johnson Spirit Award; Anne Kelleher, Auxiliary Volunteer of the Year; Lisa Emerson, the Vera Lloyd Award.
VVFD Chief John Morrison and members of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department and Auxiliary honored volunteers and career staff for outstanding and dedicated service to the department and the community at a banquet on Feb. 8. Volunteers logged in 31,000 hours in 2013.
Peggie Murray, a 35-year veteran volunteer of the VVFD, received the Kate Johnson Spirit Award for her enduring dedication. Murray says she’s “not too well” now, but she continues to lend a hand as she can. “I’m able to use the telephone to make phone calls on behalf of the Auxiliary,” Murray said. And that she does. Over the many years as an Auxiliary volunteer, Murray has made some very good friends. When she joined 35 years ago, the Auxiliary was made up of women who worked, mainly, in the kitchen and at the Christmas bazaar. “I can’t give back as much as I used to, but I do as much as I can.”
JOAN DEMPSEY celebrates 22 years with the VVFD in March. She’s fulfilled many roles within the Auxiliary. Dempsey’s record of awards acknowledges her many accomplishments with VVFD, from her work with the department’s canteen program to her involvement with special events and the Taste of Vienna. Dempsey’s accolades include 2010 Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) of the Year, 2010 Volunteer of the Year Award - voted by the volunteers of the organization, 2010 Karen Brennan Spirit Award - Presented by the Virginia State Firefighters Association Auxiliary, 2009 Lady Fairfax – representing the Hunter Mill District, 2007 Canteen Coordinator of the Year - presented by the Fairfax County Fire Commission, 2007 Service Above Self Award - presented by the Vienna Rotary Club, 2007 Chief’s Award, 2007 Volunteer of the Year Award, and the 2007 Volunteer Recognition Award - presented by Mayor M. Jane Seeman, Town of Vienna.
“I always felt that I should give back to a community that has been so good to me,” said Auxiliary president Joan Dempsey, recipient of the 2013 Leon Freeman Award. The Leon Freeman Award, given to the life member who has contributed the most to the department, is voted on by the life members of the department. “Receiving the Leon Freeman Award was a great honor as I am in an elite class of legends of the VVFD like Sam Savia, Ed Purcell and Vera Lloyd.
“It is not about getting recognition, it is about making a difference in the community,” said Dempsey.
Judi Medwedeff joined the VVFD as an administrative volunteer in 2011 and now chairs the Community Outreach Program. She initiated a monthly program of free blood pressure checks around Vienna and chairs Department fundraisers such as the “Fire Ball.” She amassed 629 volunteer hours in 2013. Her awards include the 2011 VVFD Presidents Award, 2012 Rotary Service Above Self Award, 2012 Town of Vienna Volunteer Award (nominated by VVFD), and the 2013 VVFD Volunteer of the Year.
“Our members don’t really receive many tangible benefits for their service,” said VVFD Chief John Morrison. “So, this is one of the ways we can recognize our members, especially those folks who have given exceptional service over the year.” The awards, Morrison said, represent a range of member service, from the longevity of Peggie Murray to the members who recently joined.
“If you have time, either men or women, to contribute your time to a worthwhile cause, consider joining the VVFD,” said Murray. “It does a great deal for the community.”
THE VIENNA VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. To learn more about membership in the Vienna VFD, administrative or operational, go to www.vvfd.org.