VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT FOR MARCH IS NANCY JOPEK
*The following write-up/picture is the latest edition of our monthly volunteer spotlight of volunteers in the Westfield Rec. Dept. We are blessed in the Rec. Dept. to have so many wonderful people who do and have volunteered their time both now and, in the past, to make our department and programs/events what they are today. We want to say THANK YOU! To nominate someone for volunteer spotlight, please send us a private message on Facebook or call/text Andrew at 753-6842.
Our volunteer spotlight for March is Nancy Jopek. Nancy currently serves as a lifeguard and a training instructor for our pool and pool staff at Welch Field. Nancy has worked for the Village of Westfield as a lifeguard for 12 years. She is the fourth person to be named Volunteer Spotlight who has worked for the Recreation Department (following Carol Reynolds, John Emmons and Wade Dellow). However, she is being named Volunteer spotlight as she has given so much of her time and energy to the Rec. Dept. and specifically Welch Field pool for over a decade now. Nancy is the very definition of “going beyond the call of duty!”
In her own words: “My first volunteering happened years ago when my kids attended the Triathlon and other programs like soccer and basketball (1998-2008). Once my kids grew older, my volunteering transitioned into being an employee at the pool. I still struggle with saying that I volunteer for the Recreation Department, as I see myself as a paid employee, just at times at a discounted price to help the Rec. Dept. and the Village. The main program I volunteer for year-round and not just the summer is the American Red Cross Learn to Swim program, along with keeping up on guidelines and regulations for certifications of lifeguard and water safety instructors the Learn to Swim program, and any revisions there and the last two years with COVID guidelines as well.” We cannot emphasize enough how invaluable Nancy has been for Welch Field pool and our swim programs. It is quite complicated to run a pool and as many programs as we do, and we have not run them as smoothly as we have over the last 10 plus years without Nancy. She has done an amazing job for us and has certainly given a lot of her time beyond what she has gotten paid for.
When asked what her favorite Rec. Dept. program or event is, Nancy said: “Not sure I have a favorite program, as each program offered by the Recreation Department is important and is a favorite in their own way. I like the variety of programs offered from the Wee Woozles swim program at age 6 months to the Senior Citizen trips. If I had to truly pick one, it would be two swimming programs – the Annual Swim Meet and the yearly swim lessons. The Annual Swim meet held in August (often the same day as the Tour of Chautauqua) is open to anyone age 5-90. The Swim Meet, like the Tour of Chautauqua, is one of the many events sponsored by the Recreation Department that relies on volunteers to happen. From set up to registration to timers to ribbon writers to concessions to posting results, the meet is truly an example of teamwork of volunteers that only work together once a year. I first volunteered for the swim meet when my daughter was a part of the summer swim team at Welch Field. My favorite part of the meet is not seeing who came in first, but who, regardless of age, left the meet with a personal best. It is also fun to watch the competition between the coaches and the participants cheering each other on. The Swim Meet is an opportunity to showcase not only Welch Field but the whole village to both the participants and the spectators.”
“Yearly swim lessons are normally a paid position, but, when possible, I will work with students on my own time assisting them in fine tuning their skills so they can be promoted to the next level. There is no greater joy than in watching a student grasp the concepts and being able to demonstrate the skill/stroke they have been working on. The smile on their face when they realize they “got it” is the best benefit and pay. During the winter months, being approached to see when swim lessons will start again, and the excitement is truly a blessing. Swimming is unique in that it can be done by anyone of any age. Improvements in technique are always possible. Competitors may not always take first place but the chance to improve their times and have a new personal best is always possible.” The number of local youths who have been taught how to swim by Nancy is too many to count. She has also certified many of our lifeguards that have worked at Welch Field pool both now and in the past. Nancy has and continues to make such a huge difference in the lives of so many people.
To give as much of her time as she has given and to be so passionate about swimming and the Welch Field pool, left us to wonder why she volunteers so much of her time. Nancy said: “Volunteering is a part of my life, whether it be the Recreation Department, the school when my kids were students, or my church. I feel giving back to my community is important. To me it is not only important that I volunteer, but also that I am qualified to volunteer and can contribute something to the program. It is the reason I have traveled and obtained at my own expense the various certifications offered by the American Red Cross: it benefits the Recreation Department. As I finished my Bachelor of Science degree in business with a minor in aquatics, I had to justify my degree. What I found interesting about Chautauqua County is out of 1,500 square miles, 29% (440) of them are composed of water. Water safety and swimming are key to survival in our area with the many recreational activities offered. I enjoy being able to share this knowledge and teach these skills. Being able to volunteer while spreading this knowledge is the icing on the cake.”
Most people will never know just how much Nancy has done for the Rec. Dept., Welch Field, and her larger community. We cannot say enough about how awesome of a job she has done and how critical her impact has been to our youths, lifeguards, and overall programs. We would not be where we are today without her. Each year, she has gained more and more experience and knowledge and has passed that on to so many people. One thing that has never changed though, is her passion for what she does. Specifically for swimming and for the Welch Field pool. We are so fortunate to have her on our staff as well as volunteering for us in a variety of ways. Our department and community are so much better off for having Nancy do what she does. Thank you, Nancy!
Past Volunteer Spotlights:
July 2020: Christian Caballero
August 2020: Carol Reynolds
September 2020: Don Parker
October 2020: Luci Petrella
November 2020: John Emmons
December 2020: The Baum Family (Chris, Shannon, Mason, and Logan)
January 2021: Chris Anderson
February 2021: Roger Miller
March 2021: The Dellow Family (Wade, Wendy, Hunter, and Haleigh)
April 2021: Jim Van Dyke
May 2021: Josh & Amy Belcher
June 2021: Gavin Emery
August 2021: Roxanne Baideme
September 2021: James “Shaggy” Ruch
October 2021: Dave Walker
November 2021: Chris Chasse
December 2021: Josh Freifeld
January 2022: Mike & Sarah Burnett