‘We Have to Take Care of Each Other,’ Says Humboldt County Woman Who Won California State Volunteer of the Year

Ch-fire safety

Cheryl Antony holding a fire extinguisher as she helps train others in safety practices. [All photos provided by Susan Fox]

Imagine all these hats stacked on a table ready to be pulled on as needed–firefighter, EMT, nurse, driver for Meals on Wheels, knitter of caps for newborns, instructor for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and more.

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.”

Ch-map

Cheryl Antony helped create a map to make emergency response easier. Area shelters and homes of those who require evacuation assistance are identified on it. 

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.”

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Cheryl Antony checks on one of her community members. [Photos provided by Susan Fox]

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.”

Ch-meals on Wheels

Cheryl Antony along with a fellow volunteer at a Meals on Wheels Christmas event.

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.”

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17 comments

  • Thanks again, Kym for another terrific story!

    The best people never want any attention for their good deeds- their focus is on the service. And yet, the rest of us do need these opportunities to appreciate these role models and perhaps be inspired to find the “better angels” within our own selves.

    Plus, it’s always welcome to have uplifting “Good News” stories to read, amidst the typical news stream.

  • Sounds like Cheryl makes good use of her time.
    How many times I have wondered how nice it would be to live in the Cove and then thought, do I really want to be that far from anything.
    One good thing is that in case of tsunamis is the quickly rising land and multiple roads leading to higher ground.

  • What a wonderful woman! Its people like her that make this county special:) She is correct about our Tsunami warning, you can’t hear it in a lot of places in the cove. Sounds like she is very wise and in tune with the needs of our community. Your an inspiration and a wonderful asset to our county!

  • You GO GIRL!!I’m so glad how busy you keep yourself,Bless your heart!!

  • What a nice story about a nice person – thank you!

  • Many many thanks yous’ Ms. Antony, what a nice story on RHBB

  • Thank you Kym, and thank you Cheryl Antony. I just love it when credit is given where credit is due. Congrats Cheryl!

    Another great story would be the life and times of the lady having her blood pressure taken. I don’t want to throw around names, but anybody that has been here a while knows her.

  • proud to call her Mom

  • I echo all the wonderful commenters. You go girl!!!

  • A very sweet story: makes my heart blossom.

  • She is an incredible woman, a true caretaker of our community in Shelter Cove. We so appreciate her and all that she does.

  • How inspiring! We can all do a little to help one another.

  • Great story. Great Person!

  • I am thrilled to have met her, AND wear a red cap she knit for me to keep my bald head warm!! How’s that for “caring?” .

  • What a great story and a wonderful lady!

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