Pa. Volunteer Firefighters Get $447K From Estate

April 18, 2013
Firefighters with the Big Knob Volunteer Fire Department recently received a gift of $447,000 from a benefactor's estate. They'll use it to help pay for new fire trucks.

April 17--NEW SEWICKLEY TWP. -- Lonnie Vodenichar was dumbstruck when he recently saw the amount of the check presented to the Big Knob Volunteer Fire Department in New Sewickley Township.

"I'm not without words very often," said the department president, "but I could not even say anything at that moment when I looked at that check."

He was staring at $447,000 -- the biggest donation ever received by the company.

"What's more incredible," he said, "we're not the only recipient."

The bequest was made to Big Knob Volunteer Fire Department from the estate of the late Laverne and Wanda Kendrick.

Kathleen Safron, daughter of the Kendricks, and her husband, John, live in New Sewickley. She said her father, who died Dec. 31, and her mother, who died in 2011, lived in Hampton Township.

They established a charitable trust in which they designated a number of beneficiaries, including fire companies in Hampton and Richland townships, churches, and the Shriners Hospitals for Children -- Tampa.

Kathleen Safron said she asked her father if he would consider including Big Knob, her volunteer fire department.

It's important, she said, to support fire departments -- especially volunteer departments -- to ensure that firefighters have modern, reliable equipment to protect their lives and safety, as well as the property and people they serve.

Vodenichar said he'd heard the company was about to receive a sizable gift, but, at first, didn't believe it.

"We are so grateful for it," he said. "Getting people to donate anything to the fire department is like pulling teeth." Which made it all the more astonishing, he added, "to get that kind of money in one big, lump sum."

The donation couldn't have been more timely. The fire department was already in the process of purchasing a new truck.

"(The bequest) makes it so much easier on us to go ahead with what we want to do. This just puts us over the top. It helps us out greatly," Vodenichar said.

"It's definitely going to help," agreed P.J. Moldovan, fire chief, enabling the company to upgrade its equipment.

Moldovan said the donation will be used to purchase two new fire trucks -- an engine and tanker -- to replace 1988 and 1993 engine trucks that will be retired.

Monday, the fire department honored the Kendricks' memory and generous gift by presenting the Safrons with a plaque bearing the department's insignia and inscription: "Dedicated in appreciation for the thoughtful donation from Laverne and Wanda Kendrick, parents of Kathleen and John Safron."

An identical plaque was given to the Safrons.

Copyright 2013 - Beaver County Times, Pa.

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