Volunteering is in Shannon Olsen’s blood. The 33 year old joined the Darien Volunteer Fire Department when she was 16. She followed in the footsteps of her brother, father, and multiple cousins. In fact, her family’s volunteering for the department dates back to the early 1900s.
Shannon’s father Ted Olsen considers the fire department both a “brotherhood” and a “second family.”
The Olsens were among about 50 people who attended Darien Historical Society’s first ever Spirit of the American Volunteer program on Saturday. As part of the program, five first responders — Bob Montlick, Dick Koch, Darien Housing Authority Chairman Joe Warren, Charles (Chick) Scribner, and Darien Police Chief Ray Osborne — were honored.
Each of the five men received a Thaddeus Bell award certificate of community appreciation, as well as a proclamation from Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, claiming May 18, 2019 as First Responder Day in their name.
Darien resident Dave Polett, who was master of ceremonies at the event and is chairman of the town’s Monuments & Ceremonies Commission, said that each of the men who were being honored — as well as all volunteers everywhere — benefit their community greatly.
When introducing the men, Darien Historical Society Director Maggie McIntire said the roots and foundation of the Darien community “is neighbor helping neighbor.”
“Darien’s first responders are the embodiment of that spirit, and it’s an honor today to celebrate five of Darien’s heroes,” she said.
Scribner is a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Army during WWII. He was a member of the Noroton Heights Fire Department for over 50 years. He was assistant scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 53.
Warren joined the Noroton Volunteer Fire Department in 1965. He served in the U.S. Navy and was a member of the Navy Reserves. He has served on the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Education, the Darien Housing Authority, the Representative Town Meeting, and the Executive Board at Noroton.
Osborne served as a detective, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain of the Darien Police Department. He has approved the formation of the Department’s Juvenile Review Board. He is a former supervisor of the Department’s Domestic Violence Liaison Unit.
Montlick joined the Darien Volunteer Fire Department in 1961. He was secretary, superintendent of alarms, driver and pump instructor. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves. Also, he was a member of Troop 53 Boy Scout Explorers, and was on the committee involved in the formation of Post 53 Ambulance Corps.
Koch became a state certified emergency medical technician and an adviser on Post 53. He also taught high school students to become EMTs. In 1983, he became an advanced EMT. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he’s still volunteering with Post 53.
Ambulance 255 Project
A restored 1916 Ford Model T American field service ambulance was parked outside the Darien Historical Center during the Memorial Day event. The ambulance is part of the Ambulance 255 project and represents the 1,200 Model T Ford ambulances donated and driven by American volunteers during the first three years of World War I. Before the U.S. entered the war, these volunteers evacuated 500,000 wounded soldiers, according to George King of Franklin, who leads the project along with Jeff Klinger.
The purpose of the Ambulance 255 Project is to tell the story of the American volunteers and to encourage young people to volunteer in service to their community and country.
“We want kids to get out there and give something back to their town,” King told The Darien Times. “We plant the seed. We need volunteers to make it happen.”
At the event, Polett told everyone in attendance to “Please remember all of these people who work very hard for you every single day, and put their lives on the line for you and for us and for this town.”