Volunteers Doing: Volunteering “Is All About The Kids”

A strong work ethic and desire to do things for the kids, is the driving force behind Jeff Cap’s volunteerism. Jeff, who grew up in nearby Milford, reminisced about his first volunteer job when he was 16. {{more}} “The principal at Live Oaks school was looking for someone to protect the school during Mischief Night so my friend and I stayed at the school from 9 p.m. that night until about 3 a.m.,” he said laughing.

However, much of his volunteer dedication really didn’t start until after getting married, moving to Orange and starting a family. “I always worked so I didn’t have a lot of time to volunteer,” he explained. “I did help build websites for some non-profits and still do some of that,” Jeff added, who is the IT Director at Newman Architects in New Haven.

When Jeff volunteers, he strives to do his best and he hopes that people realize he is doing it to make a difference. He began with the Boy Scouts of America, something he is still doing. When his now10 year old son was going to move from Mary L Tracy school to Peck Place, the Cap’s received a flyer for a Cub Scout meeting. Having been a Boy Scout himself, Jeff was interested for his son. Jeff recalled that there was one leader and four kids and they were all moving up. “If no one stepped up, Pack 922 would have closed,” he said. So Jeff and his wife, Vicky, stepped up to become the Tiger Cub Den Leaders. After the first year, he took over as Cubmaster. “I have a way of being able to talk to people. I talked to the other fathers about helping to take over the Den and I recruited more kids. We have more than 30 scouts now,” Jeff explained, adding that it is now the largest Pack in Orange and that is in just five years.

During that time, the Pack also lost Peck PTA as their charter organization, so Jeff approached the Orange Volunteer Fire Department to be their Charter Organization. “I am not an Orange volunteer fireman but I do help them with their website and computers, Jeff said, adding “It turns out that Chief Gagel is an Eagle Scout.”

Jeff has gone on to take leadership courses through the BSA and has earned what is called the “Wood Badge” after taking a 1 ½ year long leadership course. Now he is helping to teach the course. “Scouting keeps you very busy but what you get back from the boys is what it is all about. When we have the Blue & Gold Dinner where the boys graduate to the next level of scouting and you see the boys’ faces when they realize what they have accomplished, it is very rewarding.”

Jeff also volunteers on the Orange Country Fair Committee. He is responsible for the website and works the food tent as well as helping with set up and break down. “If people don’t volunteer, there won’t be these events,” Jeff said. He recently became part of CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) explaining that “CERT is there to help the community. Everyone should be part of CERT at some point.”

Jeff is also on the Orange Board of Education. He became interested in politics in elementary school when he did a report on the Presidential Campaign. A chance meeting at the Orange Town Pool with Board of Education member Keith Marquis piqued Jeff’s interest and he began attending the Orange Republican Town Committee meetings. “I was not necessarily interested in running for office. At one meeting they asked for volunteers to run for office so I thought about it and decided to run,” he explained. “I care about the kids. I don’t want to see the kids not have something they should.” Jeff added, “There is something special about Orange, from the carnival to the Country Fair, the landscape is unique from Route 1 to the beautiful neighborhoods.”

Now in the beginning of his second term on the OBOE, Jeff is secretary of the Board, Chair of the Technology Committee and Chair of the Building and Grounds Committee. As chair of Building and Grounds, Jeff has been instrumental in the current issues facing the BOE and the condition of its buildings. In regards to Peck Place School, Jeff said, “Our goal is to make sure the kids go back to a safe and clean school, and that includes my own kids.”

He went on to explain that the OBOE made the decision to abate the whole school once it was learned that part of Peck had to be abated after a pipe broke in January. Despite the heat being turned up at the school during a frigid cold snap and the buildings being checked regularly, a pipe in the ceiling that went through an un-insulated cinder block, burst and flooded a portion of the school. The flood caused some of the floor tiles to come up and it was discovered that the adhesive used on the floor years ago was asbestos thus requiring an abatement of that area. However, the OBOE decided that if they had to displace the students for an extended period of time, the entire school should be abated to eliminate any future issues. Jeff added “with the students moved out to the Yale West Campus, it gives the OBOE an opportunity to address previous problems properly.”

As chair of Building and Grounds, Jeff said they do plan on accomplishing everything on the “To Do List” including the parking lot at Peck. However, the parking lot cannot be done until all of the other work is complete so the large trucks do not damage a new parking lot. “The committee has major capital improvements to be budgeted for. There is a five year plan and that really hasn’t changed based on Peck but the OBOE needs to get the funding to accomplish our goals. The zero percent OBOE budgets have made it difficult to get the funding to maintain our buildings,” Jeff explained.

Regarding the mold issue, Jeff said, “It is important for people to know it was a trash can with food mold that was not properly dispensed at the end of the school year. That issue has been addressed at this point.”

Being a volunteer means your family suffers a little bit, Jeff explained. “You definitely have less time with your family, however through scouting I have been able to get some of that time back. I think it has brought me closer to my kids.” He explained, with the OBOE, “it is about all the kids. Orange is great because, for the most part, everyone looks out for everyone else’s kids. I have met so many people and it is worth every minute.”