Volunteer Profiles

Interview with Vivian “Viv” Larson, 11/13/04 by Lee Salgren

Lee: How and when did you first hear about the Fire Safe Council?

Viv: I heard about the Fire Safe Council and the volunteers from Janice Herdey in July 2003. I had previously attended a general meeting of the Fire Safe Council. Janice told me about the “Woodies” (the name the volunteers use to designate the members of the Fire Safe Council that work on fire hazard abatement).

Lee: Were you concerned that you might be the only woman working on the Woodie crew doing hazard abatement work?

Viv: No, not at all (as the Woodie crew has grown, there are as many women working as men). The crew works so well together the mutual appreciation of everyone’s talents is evident.

Lee: Is the Fire Safe volunteer work what you expected when you first came out to work on the projects?

Viv: I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I knew I was looking for a volunteer opportunity that would benefit the community. Knowing that the work we are doing each week is making a difference, making the mountain fire safe, is a pleasure. I enjoy seeing what can be accomplished by volunteering my time. The Woodies are not reimbursed for the work, but knowing you can contribute to the safety of the community is worth so much to each of the volunteers, and the resident’s appreciation in seeing their property made safe is wonderful. Many of the residents work with us, this increases their awareness of the work the Fire Safe Council is doing to make their property fire safe.

Lee: You have been working with the Woodies for a year and a half, describe the people you work with, on the Woodie crew.

Viv: They are a good group of fun loving, kind, and considerate people interested in making our community safe.

Lee: Would you make any changes or suggestions as to how the Fire Safe Council might improve the work the Woodies are doing?

Viv: If the residents on the mountain became aware of what we are doing, we might get more donations for equipment to make the work easier and projects completed sooner. The Woodies work very well together, more volunteers are always welcome. As a Nurse, I bring knowledge from my job as well as my enjoyment of working outdoors helping to improve the safety and appearance of our mountain. It is a special pleasure knowing that much of the wood we cut and split is donated to the Help Center for distribution to residents in need. I also appreciate that safety is a priority as we work; it is nice to know that safety training is emphasized. Proper use of tools and awareness of each member of the crew is ongoing; it is important when you are doing hazard abatement which includes tree felling by some of the crew. We use wood splitters and wood chippers on the projects. Being aware of what is happening around us is a priority.

Lee: The Woodies come from all walks of life, doctors, nurses, teachers, professors, lawyers, business owners, artists, office workers, construction workers, engineers, truck drivers and writers. The talents of each are valued and appreciated .

Lee: Viv joined the group of Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council volunteers that went to Cuyamuca to help remove trees burned in the San Diego County Fire. Vivian is a nurse in the Recovery Room at San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital, she has given up an additional day each each week to work with the Fire Safe Council, Woodie crew. Viv was born in Chicago then moved to Connecticut where she worked as a nurse prior to moving to Idyllwild in 1991. Viv loves Idyllwild, and often says, “This is my home now.”