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Disability doesn’t deter local volunteer

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Thomas Arsenault believes “Everybody should do something in public service,” and if there is someone who could sit back and avoid becoming involved in helping his community, it is Thom.

Awaiting a heart transplant after a major heart attack forced him into retirement eleven years ago, Thom isn’t letting his disability limit his effort to serve his neighbors and friends. He is an active volunteer with Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department (FRVFRD), where he spearheads the membership committee and assists with fundraisers.

Thom was not aware of the need in fire and rescue services for someone with his expertise until Harry “Junior” Kisner, asked him what he was doing with his time. After thinking about it, Thom realized he wanted to get out of the house and become involved in something meaningful.

Throughout his professional career in quality assurance with government contractors, he has developed an extraordinary skill for managing details, which helps support the administrative work of the volunteer organization. As an associate member of FRVFRD, Thom is reaching out to volunteers to facilitate participation in the company. Whether people are interested in responding to emergency calls, or just helping out with everyday tasks, he believes it is all a means for providing vital service to the community.

Thom serves because he “needed something to do,” and he would not let his devastating health situation “destroy” him. He noted, “I do it because who else is going to do it? I can’t think about my illness, if I’m doing something.” His public service ethic is lived out through his monthly volunteer schedule, and he shares this desire to help with others. Thom and his wife of 37 years, Glenna, must have made public service a family value as they have raised three children who all serve their communities in some capacity. Their son, Jeremy, and daughter, Stephanie, have both chosen careers in law enforcement, while their son, Andrew, is a marine.

Warren County Fire and Rescue’s motto echoes Thom’s sentiments: “If not me, then who?” “It takes more than just a few first responders to keep our local volunteer fire stations operational,” said Chief Richard E. Mabie of Warren County Fire and Rescue Services.

“Certainly, each of Warren County’s eight volunteer departments need additional EMS and firefighting personnel, but there are also ways to become involved that do not require rescue certifications,” Mabie added.

Volunteers like Thom assist with programs such as Bingo and fundraising dinners which help supplement available resources for emergency response. “If enough volunteers step forward to manage the fundraising and other non-emergency activities in local volunteer fire and rescue departments, firefighters and EMS volunteers can focus on responding when the community needs them most,” Mabie concluded.

For more information about volunteering, visit warrencountyfire.com/join-us, or call Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Brenda Diehl at 540 636-3830.

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