NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – North Salem’s Janice Hellwinkel got a call from Town Supervisor Warren Lucas during the winter, telling her she was to be nominated to state Sen. Greg Ball’s roster of the 40th District Women of Distinction.
“I’m a very private person,” Hellwinkel says. “I keep a low profile. And I thought, ‘Why don’t they honor Karen Roach? She does a lot of things, too.’ ”
Hellwinkel thinks she may have been chosen because of her work during Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm. She was one of the volunteers who worked tirelessly at the North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps, keeping people warm, comfortable and well-fed.
“I thought I’d be there for one day during the hurricane. It turned into six days, from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.”
During the October storm, she said, “I was working in my office at home. There was a foot of snow in the driveway. Then I see a police drive up. ‘Are you Janice?’ the officer asked. ‘They told me to come and get you.’ I said, ‘I have to finish cooking my chicken stew and then I’ll come over.”
After her Hurricane Irene experience, she knew what equipment she would need. “This time I brought my good knife, a cutting board, towels, napkins, coffee cups and a bunch of food items.”
Hellwinkel has been involved in many local volunteer organizations and charities, including the Elizabeth G. Butler Angel Foundation, the Stewart R. Mott Foundation and the North Salem League, to name just a few. She was the first woman president of the North Salem Lions Club, serving a five-year term, longer than any other president.
“Janet’s acts of volunteerism go back a long way, for many years,” Lucas said. “It became obvious to many of us, if you want something done, get Janice involved.”
Of all her accomplishments, Hellwinkel is most proud of her work with the Girl Scouts. She has been a leader and mentor to many girls and is now a Lifetime Member. Lifetime Members are adults who dedicate time and effort to helping girls realize their full potential.
“We make a difference in girls’ lives,” she said. “Often it’s the only opportunity they get to stand out and express themselves.”
The Women of Distinction award ceremony will take place Friday, March 30, at 6 p.m. at the Putnam Emergency Services Center in Carmel. A reception will follow.