Volunteerism at the Fire Island Light House is a huge contribution to the structure functionality. Without the large number of volunteers that come around daily, the Fire Island Light House would be unable to offer tower tours, educational school programs, and lens building and exhibit resources. These people who come from all parts of long island pride themselves on customer satisfaction and public education. The professional staff strives to instill in their volunteers daily the importance of providing an outstanding experience and thanking each individual visitor for coming.
Tom Russo (pictured below on the left) is a volunteer at the light house who lives in North Babylon. In 2005 he retired from the Long Island Rail Road. He started volunteering in a very interesting way. He has two daughters and one of them lives in Oregon. After visiting her for a while, and in search of something fun to do, him and his wife began to visit light houses. The lens that lighthouses used to make their light shine are what sparked the most of his interest. This trip is what led him to become interested in serving the National Park Service as a volunteer. This interest in lighthouses did not end after they returned home from Oregon. They have gone on light house yours which leave out of Port Washington on Long island and lead you around the Throgs Neck Bridge and the Long Island Sound. After running into another retired coworker from the Long Island Rail Road, Tom and his wife became involved in volunteering for the lighthouse. He always camped, loved the outdoors, and him and his wife consider themselves environmentalist advocates. His favorite part of volunteering at the Fire Island Light House is walking the trail leading from the field five parking lot to the light house. Tom is very excited, enthusiastic and loves the people that he works with. Tom feels that the Fire Island Light House Preservation Society and the National Park Service have “unique characteristics such as being proactive and constantly moving forward to create a better experience for visitors, better exhibits, and a better portrayal of history.”
Geof Karlin (pictured above on the right) is a 70 year old retired microelectronic employee. He worked at an establishment similar to AT&T where most of the success in telecommunications originated. He has been volunteering at the Fire Island Light House now for four years. After a visit to the light house and the newly build lens building that displays the lighthouses original lens, Geof saw a sign looking for volunteers. His journey began after he finished remodeling his house and on that day decided that he wanted to start participating in volunteering at the light house. His favorite part of coming each day he is scheduled to volunteer is fulfilling his need for the beach. Living in a dense suburbia on Long Island Geof “needed a good view”. With a back round in marketing his specialties involve presenting to the public. He says that at the Fire Island Light House he is “selling enjoyment and education enrichment”. Geof has contributed many of the older posters that are hanging in the tower and lens building as well as some of the older brochures.
Alison Downing (unpictured) is one of the youngest light house volunteers that I have met so far! At only 23, she is in her last semester of college and just started volunteering two weeks ago. She began because her grandfather who volunteers always has such great stories about his experiences at the Fire Island Light House. Alison loves to come volunteer because she loves the beach, salty air, deer and wildlife, and the outstanding view. Although she is young and will begin to pursue a career soon, she still wants to continue volunteering for as long as she can.
Spending a couple hours at the lighthouse is not only beautiful but also uplifting. Whatever mood that you may be in before stepping on the grounds of the Fire Island Light House seems to completely wash away during your time there. Its massive structure is enchanting and its history is compelling. Let me not forget to mention that the staff and volunteers which run this establishment are amazing, educated, and cheerful people, to say the least.