Volunteers Doing: “That’s The Gift…Volunteering”

Jody Daymon and her husband, Bill, have been volunteering with the food operations at the Orange Country Fair since 1983, 30 years of slinging burgers, hot dogs and smelling of grease but they have loved every minute of it.{{more}}

Jody explained that Judy Wright Williams was the person who came to her to get her involved. As Co-superintendent of Food Operations (with Lynn Plaskowitz), she and Lynn buy everything, decide the menu, set the prices and the portions. They do the set up and the clean up. “The worst part of it is the Monday after the fair — putting everything away and organizing it,” Jody said. Adding, “We have never seen the fair,” because she and Bill are always working.

Jody’s two daughters have been regular volunteers over the years. Katie would be in the play pen behind the food counter and Betsy has been cooking hot dogs since she was old enough to be on the grill. “The people in the food area have been there as long as us. They come back every year,” Jody said noting the help of Glenn Pearson and Dan McKee.

As with many VooDos in Orange, volunteering at the Orange Country Fair isn’t all she does or has done. In 1989, Jody worked on fundraising and construction of the old wood playground behind town hall. “We worked at night and in the rain to build it,” she added with a grin. Again, her husband and daughters were there helping, too.

After working on the playground, Jody became involved in various PTAs from the Orange Congregational Church Nursery school to Turkey Hill School to the Amity Junior and Senior High School PTAs. She also served as president of the PTA. She is now an honorary member of both the Connecticut and National PTA organizations. As a member of the now defunct, PTA Council, Jody was instrumental in the PTA Council assuming the sponsorship of the Annual Orange Fourth of July fireworks. “We raised a lot of money and did great things with it. We shared educational programming costs among all the schools,” she explained.

As a longtime member of the Orange Republican Town Committee, Jody has been a member of the Women’s Republican Club of Orange serving as its President from 2004-2006. Additionally, Jody volunteered with Orange Community Women for 26 years. Orange Community Women is a small group and among their contributions to the town is providing food baskets at Thanksgiving.

Relay for Life is another organization that Jody has been a volunteer with since 2009. This past year she worked with Kristen Marquis to begin Relay Recess at Peck Place School. This year, they plan to bring the program to the other schools in town. The idea is that the students use their recess time to walk the playground area, similar to the Relay for Life event. “We don’t ask them to fundraise to participate, although some students do,” Jody explained.

With such a long list of volunteering, Jody said “I love this town and I wanted to make a difference. I have met a lot of great people,” adding with a smile, “I haven’t learned how to say no.”

As for next year’s Country Fair, Jody said they have already started but the heavy planning begins about five months prior. That is when they meet with vendors like Hummel and George over at Chip’s. “George is not only a vendor but he has been a great source of information to us,” Jody added.

She also explained that the fair is part of the Orange Town Budget and proceeds go to improvements for the fairgrounds and maintaining the structures such as the Gazebo.

“Volunteering has enriched my life enormously. I have met people I treasure. As my daughter, Betsy once said, ‘this is the greatest group of people to go get greasy with.’”

“That’s the gift. There is great satisfaction in volunteerism. As the saying goes ‘It is better to give than to receive.’”

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.