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Many local groups are thankful for volunteer service from Wayne Litchfield

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 November 2018 at 7:15 pm

Medina man urges others to connect with groups in Orleans County

Provided photos: Wayne Litchfield is pictured at the Hospice of Orleans County sign, one of the many organizations where he is an active volunteer.

MEDINA – A Medina man who retired five years ago as an Orleans County public safety dispatcher has poured himself to many local organizations as a volunteer. His service has been critical for many of the groups to serve Orleans County residents.

Wayne Litchfield, 67, said he is grateful to be a part of so many organizations. When he retired after 28 years as a dispatcher, he embraced the chance to use his many connections in the community to help local not-for-profits.

Litchfield isn’t just a member of local groups. He does a lot of work on their behalf.

He is a list of some of his commitments:

• Direct care volunteer at Hospice of Orleans, and also will wear a Gingerbread costume to lift people’s spirits.

• One of the leaders in the Orleans-Recovery Hope Begins Here organization, which offers assistance to people fighting addictions.

• Member of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force, and a member of the Orleans United Drug-Free Coalition and the National Night Out planning committee.

• Member of the VALOR Medical Reserve Corps for the Orleans County Health Department.

• Director of media and technology at the Albion Free Methodist Church. He also runs the church’s website and Facebook page.

• Mentor in the Just Friends program through the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern.

• Member of the planning committee for the Metro 10 race, and helps with the organization, set up and manning of water stations, and will spring into action when needed.

• A consistent volunteer at the Community Kitchen in Albion and the Hands 4 Hope Ministry on Saturdays.

• Master gardener with the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension.

• He also helps at Care Net of Greater Orleans, Gotta Dance at Miss Amy, the Ride 4 Life and the Ride for Roswell.

Litchfield wears the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume to make the Trunk or Treat event more fun at the Albion Free Methodist Church.

Litchfield grew up in Holley and was an active volunteer firefighter and member of the rescue squad before becoming a dispatcher.

He was hospitalized in July with congestive heart failure. He has rebounded and said he welcomes the chance to serve others.

“It’s about a better community,” he said. “It’s about a love of people and a love of God.”

Litchfield was at the Lakeside Beikirch Care Center for a year until July 2013. He needed extensive rehab so he could walk again.

He retired from his job as dispatcher and went home to Medina, using a walker to get around. It was quiet in his house.

“Wayne this isn’t you, sitting home staring at a wall,” he recalled. “I got to be out there with people.”

Paul Pettit, the Orleans County public health director, called Litchfield and asked him if he would be coordinator of the VALOR program, which seeks volunteers to be trained and ready to respond in case of a public health issue, such as a mass vaccination clinic.

Litchfield agreed to take on the role.

“I knew Wayne from his role with the county as a dispatcher,” Pettit said. “He has a good background in talking to folks. He has really embraced and thrived on that human communication.”

Litchfield attends concerts at the Orleans County Marine Park and uses that venue to share information to the public about VALOR and the organization’s role. He is good at connecting with people.

Litchfield, in back, is shown in 1981 when he was a member of the Holley Emergency Squad.

Pettit isn’t surprised that Litchfield keeps a busy schedule as a volunteer, assisting many groups in the community.

“He has a passionate heart for giving and volunteering,” Pettit said. “He really wants to give back to the community. We could use more people like Wayne to volunteer.”

Litchfield last month was honored by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce with the Community Service Award.

He credits his mother, the late Ruth Litchfield, for making him sensitive to serving others. She died at age 36 from severe arthritis. Wayne was only 12.

“She really instilled in me a love for other people,” he said.

He grew up in Holley and was a volunteer firefighter and a member of Holley’s Emergency Squad before he took the job as dispatcher.

He said the loss of his mother at a young age, and overcoming some health problems, including recent congestive heart failure, has made him appreciative of the chance to help others. He has made many friends by volunteering, and he believes his efforts make a difference for the organizations and the people they serve.

He is up early in the morning and comes home in the evenings after a packed schedule of appointments in his volunteer capacity.

“People tell me to slow down and cut back,” Litchfield said. “I’m back at full blast right now. These groups need more volunteers. I say give me one more volunteer and I will find a place for you.”

Litchfield manned a table on Oct. 27 at Medina Fire Department for drug take-back day.

Patricia Crowley, director of Orleans United Drug-Free Communities Coalition through GCASA, said Litchfield has continuously stepped up for her organization and others in the county. When Orleans United wanted to make graphics and snazzy signs to relay the results of a drug and alcohol use survey, Litchfield offered to take on the project. He produced many graphics that are easy to understand.

Litchfield has compassion for everyone, including people battling addictions.

“He is quite an advocate,” Crowley said. “He is a great guy. I really can’t say enough about him.”

Litchfield in his 20s battled an alcohol addiction.

“There by the grace of God go I,” he said.

He has become a trained peer advocate and mentor to assist people trying to break free from drug and alcohol addictions. He joined the new Orleans-Recovery Hope Begins Here organization, which connects people with addictions to services and raises awareness about the opioid epidemic locally.

Don Snyder, a retired prison chaplain, is president of Orleans-Recovery. He praised Litchfield for joining the group on the board of directors and doing some hard work in the background to get the organization started.

“We needed people like Wayne to help us and to establish a board of directors,” Snyder said. “He is one of those people who has a heart for the disadvantaged or the perceived disadvantaged. He’s not afraid to get involved.”

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