A small number of women met at the River Vale Firehouse on February 27, 1924 to organize an auxiliary to the Firemen’s Association and, hence, became known as the Ladies’ Auxiliary of River Vale. Later in November of the same year, they changed their name to the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the River Vale Volunteer Fire Department – Chemical No.1. It is has grown over the years and today this association is known as the River Vale Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary. Any wife, daughter, or sister of an active River Vale volunteer firefighter may join the Ladies’ Auxiliary. The Ladies’ Auxiliary serves food and drinks to our volunteer fire fighters during fires and other emergencies on a 24-hour basis.
Throughout its history the Ladies’ Auxiliary sponsored many fundraisers. Their early efforts and financial projects were held primarily to benefit the firemen. They conducted card parties, dances, cake sales, strawberry festivals, and carnivals. They even raffled off $5.00 gold pieces and a sewing machine to help raise funds for the firemen. The annual plant sale in May and September’s mum sale continue to be successful fundraisers.
In 1924, the Ladies’ Auxiliary proudly wore their new uniforms in colors of red and white at the Firemen’s Carnival. Defense Day, on September 12th of that same year, was their first parade. The Ladies’ Auxiliary was presented with their first loving cup on July 12, 1930, after winning first prize in a competition for marching. This was the first of many trophies received for outstanding marching and award winning floats and they continue to win trophies.
In 1993 they established their first of three scholarships named for their long time members. The Bernice Natusch Community Service Scholarship is awarded yearly to a deserving eighth grade student graduating from Holdrum Middle School where Bernice was a much loved “lunch lady” for many years. In 2001 they established the Carol Goodell-Cyr Community Service Award Scholarship which is awarded to a deserving graduate of Pascack Valley High School. Carol’s mother was one of the founding members of their auxiliary and Carol was their first 40-year member. In 2008 they established the Patsy Nannery Award. This award is awarded to children of auxiliary members graduating from 8th grade. Patsy was their first member to archive 50 years in their auxiliary and was a crossing guard for our township’s children for many years.
During the past 25 years, these ladies have donated their time to raising money for many worthy causes, such as the Fireman’s Home in Boonton, where they sponsor one of the retired firefighters. They also support their township’s food pantry and sponsor a township family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The proceeds of the plant sales are donated to various charities.
Eighty-seven years have passed since their organization was formed. The years have not diminished their goals. There are twenty-two current members and their mission and goals continue. Friendship, love, and loyalty are still an intricate part of the River Vale Volunteer Fire Department Ladies’ Auxiliary. They continue to be true to their motto: “Dedicated to Serve.”