Congratulations to Chris Browne Sr., Janice Browne and Chris
Browne Jr who, as a family, are the 2022 Hesna Pfeiffer Award winners. Below is the text of the speech Larry Weppler read at the February 14th Harding Township Committee meeting when presenting the award.
I’ve been asked to make this presentation today as both a Trustee of the Harding
Township Civic Association and as the past President of the New Vernon First Aid
Squad. Each year the Harding Township Civic Association awards its
distinguished citizen award to an individual or group of individuals who represent
the spirit of Hesna Pfeiffer. Hesna was a long-time trustee of the Civic Association
and the publisher of the Thumbnail, the all-volunteer newsletter published 10 times
a year by the Civic Association. Tragically, Hesna was killed in a motor vehicle
accident in 2013. According to Lotte Newlin, Hesna “had a sense of civic
responsibility.” To commemorate her civic responsibility the Civic Association’s
distinguished citizen award was renamed in 2014 the Hesna Pfeiffer Award for
Civic Engagement. The award is intended to honor an individual or group of
individuals who have given back to the Harding community by their involvement
in civic and community affairs. This can be for an individual event or a lifetime of
service. In the past the Civic Association has awarded the Hesna Pfeiffer award to
groups, organizations and individuals and this year is awarding the Hesna Pfeiffer
Award for Civic Achievement to a family of individuals.
In the world today, volunteer organizations require three things to remain
relevant. The three “W’s”. First, volunteer organizations need wisdom. The
leadership of the organization must have leaders with the wisdom to guide the
organization over the arc of its history and sustain it in its mission. The Fire
Department for over 100 years and the First Aid Squad for over 48 years have had
the luxury of this kind of leadership which includes those individuals whom we are
The second “W” is wealth. The residents of Harding have, for more than 100
years, supported the New Vernon Volunteer Fire Department.
And the third “W”, which is what we are recognizing here tonight, is
workers. There were multiple nominations for the Hesna Pfeiffer Award this
year. The trustees after consideration determined that the Browne family best
epitomized the volunteerism which the Hesna Pfeiffer Award recognizes; so this
year’s award is being presented to Chris Browne Sr., Janice Browne and Chris
Browne Jr as a family.
The Brownes moved to Harding in 2003 and shortly after moving into their new
home in Harding, Chris Browne Sr. joined the New Vernon Volunteer Fire
Department where he has been an active member since that time. Chris says he
joined the Fire Company to meet neighbors and become integrated into his new
Members of the Fire Company train weekly and attend training classes at the
Morris County Fire Academy. Chris has achieved certification as a Firefighter I.
He is an interior firefighter trained to enter burning buildings when necessary. In
addition, Chris is the Treasurer of the New Vernon Volunteer Fire Department and
a driver for the New Vernon First Aid Squad. For the last 4 years, Chris Sr. has
responded to 132 calls for emergency First Aid assistance. In addition, during that
same period Chris Sr. has done more than 426 Fire calls, including 36 Fire calls in
one day during Sandy. Chris described the Fire Company and First Aid Squad as
unique organization, with a diverse range of people who span many ages, lifestyles
and backgrounds.” “We share a love for the community along with a desire to give
back, to help other people and make a difference.”
For those of you not familiar with the structure of the New Vernon Fire
Department, the Department consists of the Fire Company, the First Aid Squad and
the Auxiliary. The Fire Department, the overall entity, is an all-volunteer
organization which is totally funded by donations from the community. The Fire
Department and First Aid Squad respond to 911 calls throughout Harding,
including fires, medical emergencies, traffic accidents and almost any other type of
an emergency you can imagine, we’ve even rescued horses. The Fire Department
handles emergencies at the Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge, at Jockey Hollow
National Historical Park, on the stretch of I-287 that passes through Harding and
throughout the rest of Harding Township. They also provide mutual aid to our
Janice Browne joined the First Aid Squad in 2016 and took her 240 hours of
training to become an Emergency Medical Technician that year. In addition to the
initial EMT training course, all EMT’s are required to take a minimum of 48 hours
of additional training every 3 years. The First Aid Squad provides monthly
training courses for it members and Janice is a regular attendee at those classes.
Janice does a 12 hour shift each week and also volunteers as a member of the
Funds Drive. For the last 4 years Janice has responded to 124 calls for emergency
First Aid Assistance.
Chris Jr. is 23 years old and joined the First Aid Squad as a junior member in 2014
when he was 16 years old at The Pingry School. Chris Jr. became an EMT in
2016. In addition to being a member of the First Aid Squad, he followed in his
father’s footsteps, and is a graduate of the Morris County Fire Academy and is a
member of the New Vernon Volunteer Fire Company. Chris too has successfully
complete the Firefighter I course at the Morris County Fire Academy.
Since 2018, while attending Hamilton college during breaks and summers and
since his graduation, Chris Jr. has responded to 44 calls for emergency First Aid
Assistance. In addition, during that same period Chris Jr. has done more than 142
Even though Chris resides in New York City, he continues to come back to
Harding on weekends where he pulls his weekend shifts as a member of the First
Aid Squad and responds to fire calls.
Members of the Fire Company and First Aid Squad spend hours training to
enhance their skills and assure that they are providing superior care and safety to
Harding Township and its residents. They are on duty 24 hours a day/7 days a
week to provide fire and emergency care to the residents of Harding Township.
The Browne family represent the gold standard for their devotion to Harding, its
residents and their wellbeing and safety. For these reasons, the 2021 Hesna
Pfeiffer Award for Civic Engagement is being made to the Browne family.
Many of you have read the recent article in the Observer Tribune, describing the
urgent need of the First Aid Squad for EMT’s and drivers. As a past president of
the First Aid Squad and a member of the Fire Department, I can attest to the urgent
need and personally I would love to see a dozen more families like the Browne
family join the Fire Company and First Aid Squad. You should too.