This is jean McMillen interviewing Tina Chandler, 232 Indian Mountain Road, Lakeville, Ct. She is President of the board of the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service Inc. The date is July 31, 2012. Tape # 154/ file 18 VR.
JM:May I have your full name?
JM:Your parents’ names, please.
TC:James S. Schram and Dorothy Daniel Schram
JM:Do you have siblings?
TC:I have a deceased older sister.
JM:What is you educational background?
TC:I have a Bachelor of Science from CLC University,
JM:I think you told me that you came to this area in 1987 to work at Hotchkiss?
JM:What job did you acquire?
TC:I came as Director of Development.
JM:How long did you stay with Hotchkiss?
TC:I worked at Hotchkiss for 5 years.
JM:Then how did you get involved with the ambulance association?
TC:I was invited to go on the board of this service. It is actually the Volunteer Ambulance Service, not association. Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service, SVAS. I was asked if I would consider joining the board by Bill Kirber in 1998. I started my tour of duty with the board in January of 1999.
JM:What does the board actually do? Is it oversight; is it buying equipment?
TC:Like any non-profit board it is set up, and we are a non-profit agency. The board is responsible basically for fiduciary issues. In other words it is managing a budget seeing that there are funds available to run the service and that they are expended in a wise and prudent manner. That also means an
oversight of the squad in the sense that if there are issues that the squad can’t handle on their own; they come to the board for advice and a resolution.
JM:What is a squad?
TC:A squad is a group of people who are voted into squad membership because they have passed all the necessary tests for being an EMT, emergency medical technicians, and/or drivers of ambulances which means that they have to have CPR training, a few things like that plus the training to drive an ambulance, but not EMT status.
JM:How many members in a squad?
TC:Well, it can be as many as you want; we always wish we had more active members. Actually we have about 50 members. We have a few more than that, but they are not all active. I would say probably less than half are really active.
JM:Your specialty is fund raising?
TC: My specialty is fund raising.
JM:Tell me how you go about fund raising.
TC:My specialty is fund raising and organizational development; I put them together. In terms of fund raising for the Ambulance Service, we do an annual appeal. It is a mailed appeal in the spring. We do a postal patron mailing so it gets everybody in our service district which is the town of Salisbury which is Lakeville, Salisbury, Taconic, Amesville, a piece of Falls village (and Lime Rock). On top of that we do personalized mailings to people whom we feel have potential to give more substantially than others and whom we want to encourage along those lines. It is a person to person kind of a business. It is best if you can do it that way.
JM:That is true, and because it is a volunteer organization, you need to get assets in order to keep it functioning.
TC:Yes, it is not only a volunteer organization, but also we do not charge for services at all. We do not get any funds from the town by choice so that means that we have to depend entirely upon donations for every expenditure that we have. Because we are a volunteer organization, our big expenditures are much lower than they would be otherwise.
JM:What are some of the operating expenses that you have generally?
TC:They are maintenance of vehicles; we have 2 ambulances, a rescue truck, a gator, and a couple of other vehicles.
JM:What is a gator?
TC:It is one of those things that looks kind of like a garden tractor, only bigger and can take all terrain. It is used when there are rescues up on the Appalachian Trail and the mountain trails and places like that where you can’t get to any other way, so that people don’t have to walk in and try to carry somebody out from a very difficult area. Sometimes they have to anyway. A lot of expense goes to vehicle maintenance, gas, and the maintenance of the facility which was an old garage years ago. It was purchased and became the home of SVAS when it was founded 41 years ago. It is utilities; insurance is huge for us because we have to insure all our EMTs, our buildings, disposable equipment, things that they use once and thrown, medical supplies, radios for all of the members because we don’t have any one stay at the facility; they are all on call, and computers. They mandated that we had to computerize our records a few years ago; they gave us one but we needed three. The software costs us every year, upgraded and maintained; it’s like running a business, a non-profit business.
JM:You never know when something is going to be needed, either.
TC:That’s right. We make a point of keeping three years of basic operating expenses in our capital fund so if there is a downfall in the economy, we can continue to provide the service.
JM:Which is a wonderful service.
TC:Which is a wonderful service! It certainly is.
JM:I think someone like me who has never used it doesn’t realize what a wonderful thing it is until something happens.
JM:It’s my neighbor who is coming to help, not a stranger.
TC:That’s right, and many, many people say that. It is so reassuring to see somebody you know from your community.
JM:Definitely. How many members are on the board?
TC:We have a board of 17.
JM:What is the term of office?
TC:It’s a 3 year renewable term, and renewable twice. So you could have a service of a total of 9 years.
JM:If you had a wish list, what would you put on your wish list?
TC:I would put on the wish list some generous bequests.
JM:That sounds like a very good wish.
TC:Yes, because that is what has allowed us to maintain the capital account to insure that we can provide the services even if there are down turns in the economy or if extraordinary expenses occur for some reason or another. It is our cushion that guarantees that we can continue to operate the service for the community.
JM:Is there anything that I haven’t asked you about your job or the ambulance service that you would like to add?
TC:Well, I really enjoy being involved in it, and I enjoy it because it was in the ambulance service, the EMTs and the board is a wonderful cross section of our community; professional people, doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, and our blue collar community, a whole range of people. They all work together as a team extraordinarily well. They enjoy one another. As somebody said to me once, “These are people who in other circumstances would never have a chance to know or to socialize with. I enjoy it so much. It becomes a second family of people and that is a wonderful experience.
JM:Yes it is. In the interviewing that I have done many people in many different walks of life have said the same thing. It is a microcosm whether we are talking about bankers or real estate agents or teachers or the local decorator; it is a microcosm of the community.
TC:It is absolutely.
JM:I know that you are involved with other civic activities.
JM:And they are?
TC:Well the other primary one at this point is my membership in, and I am membership chair of the Housatonic Art League which is actually a regional organization which stretches up to Pittsfield and over into New York State and east to Granby and south to Sharon. It is mammoth. I’ve got about 1780 members who put on 4 shows a year. We have one running right now in Sheffield, the second one of the summer. We do a small work show in Lenox in October, small, meaning no piece bigger than 16 inches framed, and one in the holiday season as well. We provide workshop opportunities, teaching opportunities and learning opportunities for our members and others. We try to do things of a community nature. We give a small donation, a relatively small donation, to the art program at the Housatonic Valley Region High School this year. I am coordinating two student groups to go to the metropolitan Museum in New York for a day; many of them have never been there before which is a great experience. That is the other primary involvement. I have been involved with Noble Horizons over the years quite a lot, but at the moment I am not. I always feel very committed to them because my mother was there for 6 years. If they call and want some help, I would try to help.
JM:They are also a wonderful organization.
TC:They are; they are terrific.
JM:and one of the largest employers in our area.
TC:Yes, in our area, right.
JM:I know that you paint because I got a chance to see your studio.
JM:What is your medium and what do you particularly enjoy painting?
TC:My medium currently is pastels, primarily pastel. I guess you would pretty much call me a landscape painter. I love barns; I grew up in the mid-west and there are a lot of barns around here. There are lots of interesting old buildings; things which are very appealing to me.
JM:Have you always worked in pastels or did you start with oils and…
TC:No, I pretty much, I dabble with a lot of things but I pretty much gravitated to pastels early on as a statement.
JM:Is this a relatively new hobby of yours or is it something you have had all your life?
TC:Well, I grew up in a family that loved art and collected art, so art is certainly in my blood. I had some early training, but I never went to art school. I got married young, raised a family, and came back to really practicing art after I retired from Vassar College. I have been painting for not more than five years.
JM:Really! Are you a realist or abstract, pointillism, or what?
TC:Somewhere between; I mean I would like to be more abstract. It is hard to become abstract. It is a challenge. So I would say I am fairly grounded in realism for many impressionists made their general term for their oeuvre.
JM:Now you just mentioned Vassar. Did you go from the job at Hotchkiss to Vassar immediately?
TC:Yes I did. I was recruited by a colleague of mine to come and work for her, under her at Vassar. I decided that it was a great opportunity and a good choice for me. I made the commute to Poughkeepsie for six years.
JM:When did you start at Vassar?
TC:I started at Vassar in 1992 and I retired in 1998.
JM:Are you completely retired from the development part of it now?
TC:I am, but both Rusty and I have done quite a bit of consulting over the years since I retired and before actually, but now I am not doing it except on a volunteer basis.
JM:Where do you volunteer other than Noble and the Ambulance Service?
TC:That’s it. That takes a lot of time, actually a little bit too much.
JM:I know what you mean. Anything that I haven’t covered that you would like to add to this interview?
TC:You know I have lived all over the country, I have lived in very urban areas, and in suburban areas but have probably never lived in as small a town before. Although even in Iowa I lived in a much bigger town but it was certainly very rural. I have to say that I find this area really very precious in the best sense of the word: the smallness of it, the neatness of it, and the access to anything you really want is always there, the airport is not far away. It is OK because there is such a sense of trust and really a very congenial life style. It is always good to come home.
JM:It is a very nice place to be from.
JM:It is wonderful to hear from people who were not born in the area that it is a unique area and it is someplace that you want to come home to.
JM:Thank you very much for your time.
TC:Thank you, Jean. It has been a pleasure.