‘We Have to Take Care of Each Other,’ Says Humboldt County Woman Who Won California State Volunteer of the Year
That’s quite a mound!
Yet, Cheryl Antony of Shelter Cove must figuratively pull on these many different hats over the course of a month. This dynamo of a woman might stay up most of the night manning the command post as her team helps rescue an injured hiker. Then, the next day she might deliver Meals on Wheels to needy seniors. In between she might be squeezing in time to work on something like a map of her community.
No wonder she was chosen as California’s Volunteer of the Year by the Office of the Governor and California Volunteers.
Antony is a little embarrassed by the fuss. She says she feels “like a prize Holstein on exhibit. I so shy away from anything that takes me out of the trenches where I work and feel secure.”
She tells us that she doesn’t do anything special. “There is a lot of people who do volunteer work every day of their lives,” Antony explained. “I’m not Betty Chin or anything.”
After her husband died, Antony moved to Shelter Cove. “I thought I was retiring,” she laughed. But when she saw a need, she jumped in. “If someone needed help, I didn’t pay attention to the rules I just did it…I thought it was a really good idea to help people. One thing led to another and it just evolved.”
Living in a rural area means people need to work together, Antony said. “We’re isolated,” she explained. “We all understand that with one big tree or a mudslide we may be isolated for three weeks. We have to take care of each other.”
Antony and her volunteer fire department offer more than fire fighting and rescue services. “We branch out and check on people,” she explained. “We take sutures out because if we don’t do it, these people have to drive 200 miles. If we had a home health nurse that person would do it, but we don’t.”They provide basic medical services. “We keep a record of people’s blood pressure,” Antony said. They help in whatever way is needed. Regularly, Antony said, a man who is a paraplegic “drives up and beeps and I check his blood pressure. We keep a record for him.”
Because Antony worked as a pediatric registered nurse, she can offer specialized assistance as a volunteer but she urges everyone to give back to their community. “Anybody can be a volunteer,” she said. “There are things that people can do to help. It makes you feel better when you do it. It gives you a warm feeling to think that you helped people who needed it.”
Antony suggests getting involved in organizations like Meals on Wheels. “Anybody can drive meals around,” she said. “Sometimes the Meals on Wheels driver is the only one the client sees that day.”
Antony is passing the volunteering gene on. When her granddaughter came to visit after spending the summer going to various camps, she took her with her to many of her volunteer jobs. When her granddaughter got ready to go back to school, her mother asked her what was her favorite camp. “The best kind of camp was Grandma camp,” she said.
Antony isn’t resting on the praise she got from her granddaughter or from the Governor. She is pushing to replace Shelter Cove’s Tsunami Siren with three new ones and to get Call Boxes installed along Briceland Thorne Road.
As one of the narratives submitted to Governor’s selection committee by fellow community members says, “She inspires others by her dedication and devotion.”