Volunteers Doing: 20 Years and Counting!

Judy Smith’s name is almost synonymous with the Orange Planning and Zoning Commission. Smith has been serving on the commission for 20 years and is currently the vice chair.

That is 20 years of two meetings per month (not including any special meetings), rarely missing meetings equating to nearly 500 meetings in her 20 years serving.{{more}}

“When Dot Berger was first selectman, there was a vacancy and she asked me to fill it,” Judy explained. “It is a bi-partisan commission that is always congenial and we put politics aside. It is about land use. I want to help protect land values and quality of life for Orange residents,” she said, continuing, “like many boards in Orange, we are a team.”

Judy, whose family owns and operates Orange Hills Country Club, also serves on the Orange Economic Development Corporation whose mission ties in nicely with Planning and Zoning. The OEDC promotes economic development in town and is made up of both private and public sector representatives.

For Judy, volunteering on Planning and Zoning is something she has been strongly committed to. She recalled an important vote years ago regarding the Tucker Ridge property along the Housantonic River. A developer was applying to put apartments there.

“I attended that vote just three days after giving birth to my third child,” Judy said.

The developer did not get approval. She said that now the big project facing Planning and Zoning is trying to get a transit district established on Marsh Hill Road by Dichello Distributors which eventually would lead to an Orange train station.

Volunteering began as a student at Hopkins for Judy. “Community service was stressed there. We used to read to inner city children,” she said.

Her mother, Leontine Smith, like many volunteers, was also an influence in her volunteerism. Judy said they used to bring turkey dinners to inner city families on Thanksgiving.

As a member of the Connecticut State Golf Association, Judy proudly notes that she was the first female to be selected to serve on its executive committee.

She also administrates for amateur golf and helps run the Connecticut Women’s Open each year. She serves on the Hopkins Committee of Trustees, is involved in their alumni association and chaired the Building and Grounds Committee for two years noting that Hopkins just put in a new synthetic football field. In the past, Judy served on the Board of Trustees for the Orange Congregational Church.

“I love our town of Orange and any opportunity I have to give back or make a contribution, I want to. The people here are great. The other volunteers in town are so inspiring; for example our Country Fair volunteers and the Fireman’s Carnival. This is a reflection of our people. We role up our sleeves and help our neighbors.”

Jody Dietch is the Synagogue Administrator at Congregation Or Shalom. She is a member of the Orange Board of Education serving as vice chair. Jody has degrees in both journalism and public relations.