Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Giving Back; Volunteer Work a Real Full-Time Job

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Giving Back; Volunteer Work a Real Full-Time Job

Article excerpt


BRYCEVILLE - The couple who volunteers together stays together.

That's been true for 35 years for Billy and Viki Gentilman, who quietly volunteer together in a staggering number of organizations.

And they've done so since they were married in a fire station in 1972.

"I was in a volunteer fire department and rode rescue in high school," Billy Gentilman said Thursday. "My grandpa was a volunteer firefighter. The whole family was into that kind of stuff."

The couple, who moved to Bryceville in 2001, spend most of their time doing something for which they receive no pay and little, if any, recognition.

Both are Red Cross volunteers and both are qualified for shelter operation, disaster assistance team, mass care, mass casualty disaster, family services, emergency assistance, disaster assessment and pet first aid.

"We're part of the Nassau County Disaster Action Team. If someone gets burned out, for example, we're the ones that give them a card to go to a hotel," Viki Gentilman said.

They're also active members of the Nassau County and Jacksonville Community Emergency Response Teams. They also are CERT instructors. CERT training prepares volunteers to provide initial response during emergencies, including first treatment for life-threatening injuries, until emergency fire and medical personnel are able to get to the scene.

"It's designed so people in each neighborhood have an idea what to do in an emergency and to be the first responders before the responders arrive," Viki Gentilman said. "We've done a lot of training that we'll hopefully never have to use."

They even spend vacations getting more training in emergency preparedness.

"I took a two-week vacation and we took the basic emergency management academy for 14 days straight. We're signed up for the intermediate class this year," Billy Gentilman said. …

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