Connecticut Community Volunteer Named 2023 Whelen Everyday Champion!

You’re not likely to get Sandy Voss to agree that she deserves the title of Everyday Champion. Despite being nominated for donating countless hours of her time to serve her community over the last 35 years, Voss simply says, “It’s just my way of life.”

A Life of Service

Since 1988, Sandy Voss has been a member of the Volunteer Fire Department in Clinton, Connecticut, devoting her time – and her garage which has long been occupied by donated items she’s collected for various holiday drives – to making the lives of those around her just a little bit brighter. Along with a team of fellow volunteers, she has organized fundraiser walks for cancer relief, Breakfast with Santa for children in foster care, fire prevention lessons, Easter baskets for the food pantry, giving trees, toy drives – and the list goes on. If Sandy learns of someone in need, she doesn’t hesitate to become their champion and offer support however she is able. Service is second nature to her and something she learned from her fire department family who she says she was lucky to find as a single mom searching for a sense of community and purpose all those years ago.

“Sandy is kind, loving, and always puts others before herself,” says Sandy’s granddaughter, Autumn, who nominated her to be this year’s Whelen Everyday Champion. “I hope to be half the person she is when I am older.”

Though she accepts the recognition reluctantly and with endearing humility, Sandy hopes she can inspire others to get involved in their communities and says getting started is simple. “Give your time – even just a few minutes – to helping someone else,” she says. “I know you’ll enjoy it and I know it will make a difference. I live it every day.” Sandy’s already been an inspiration to her family and shares her love of volunteering with her husband, 4 children, 14 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren (though they aren’t quite old enough to stuff Easter eggs just yet).

When asked about the future, Sandy has no plans for slowing down. “I’ll probably never change,” she says. “And my husband will probably never get his garage back – just don’t tell him that. But it’s all worth it.”

A Call to Serve

If you’d like to join Sandy in becoming a community champion but you’re not sure where to start, here’s what she suggests:

  • Build a Network: Connect with members of your community to establish a network of support. Stop by your local fire or police department, call up area hospitals, or reach out to local business owners who may know of existing opportunities to volunteer or who may be willing to make donations to your cause.
  • Support Small Businesses: Community service is about helping people in your community live better lives and that can be done in a lot of ways. Shopping small helps business owners support their families and enriches the community.
  • Give Your Time: You don’t have to give a lot of money to make a difference. Your time is even more valuable than a monetary donation. Sponsor a child around the holidays and shop for items on their wish list, deliver groceries to a family in need, or stuff care packages for the unhoused community.

According to Sandy, it doesn’t matter where or how you start, just that you start. “And next year,” she says with a hopeful smile, “Maybe there will be thousands of nominations for the Whelen Everyday Champion! Who knows? Maybe it could even be one of you?”

Celebrating Our Champion

“Sandy Voss is a perfect representation of what it means to be an Everyday Champion,” says Pete Tiezzi, General Manager of Motorsports at Whelen, and a retired 35-year veteran of the Chester Hose Company in Chester, Connecticut. “We’re thrilled to recognize her for her countless community contributions, and we look forward to honoring her at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina in January 2024.”

Sandy will join a distinguished list of past honorees in the Whelen Hall of Champions. Stay tuned for more photos and videos of Sandy’s story and ceremony!