Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps still serving after 35+ years

(l-r, back row) Volunteers Christopher Nazario, Adam Schoenstein, Anthony Grimaco, Laura Leich, chairwoman Ruth Leith, Angel Acevado, Francheska Matos, (l-r, front row) Jonathan Romero and Tommy D’attore gathere before a recent roundtable discussion, held on Wednesday, June 24, to about the organization’s future.
Photo by Walter Pofeldt

A nonprofit organization in Throggs Neck is still caring for the lives of Bronx residents after over 35 years.

Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps, a long-lasting volunteer ambulance corps, has been dedicated to aiding, helping and supporting the lives of its residents ever since the volunteer organization was started in the late 1970s.

TNVAC, which was founded by a group of local residents, was started to help the community by providing ambulance and medical service for its residents.

As a Throggs Neck-based organization, TNVAC had the ability to arrive at call locations in their neighborhood faster than borough-based hospitals without the high bills and expenses, which can range from $1,200 to $1,500 for an ambulance transport.

Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps moved to its current location of 3955 E. Tremont Avenue after the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation donated the land to TNVAC in the mid 1980s.

At around the same time, the organization extended its boundaries and began providing services for residents in Country Club and Pelham Bay.

Despite being an important asset to its communities, Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps has struggled to generate the funds to stay afloat.

However, TNVAC is here today because of the additional financial support it receives from local political leaders such as Senator Jeff Klein and Councilman James Vacca.

As recently as 2013, City Council speaker Christine Quinn allocated $50,000 in NYC funds to the organization while the Rudin Family Foundation contributed $25,000.

After obtaining the funding it looked like the corps was back on track, but then in 2014 tragic events occurred.

Laura D’attore, the first vice chairwoman and the first woman to be chief of operations for TNVAC, passed away on August 13 after spending over three decades with the organization.

Just three months later, chairman Bill Heaney, who was also with TNVAC from its infancy, passed away on November 9.

“It’s been a tough time period for (TNVAC) because of those two major losses,” said Ruth Leich, TNVAC chairwoman, who has held various positions within the organization for almost 20 years. “We’re trying to pick up those broken pieces, but when an organization loses two people who were so important and so instrumental to its success, it’s difficult for everybody.”

Amidst the losses and tribulations, the organization has certainly seen improvements since its inception.

Along with extending its boundaries to other neighborhoods, TNVAC now offers free CPR classes to the community, first aid and lifeguards while providing other classes.

They also train their members for free.

“I am very thankful to this organization because they trained me for free and they paid for my classes when I was in school,” said volunteer Carlos Garcia, who has been with the organization since 2002 and trained to be an emergency medical technician. “(TNVAC) taught me everything, and when an organization like this efficiently trains their members for free, it leads to a safer community in return.”

After looking at the organization’s history, it is clear that the TNVAC has been and continues to be a vitally important asset for the community, even with the current issues the organization now faces.

“This organization, now in its 36th year, is a tremendous asset to the neighborhoods that it serves,” said Jim McQuade, Throggs Neck resident and businessman. Despite the constant difficulty with receiving donations as well as finding volunteers, they still educate the community about safety while passing along a ‘neighbor helping neighbor’ mentality.

“There are other neighborhoods in NYC that now have to wait for emergency medical service because they lost their volunteer ambulance services, and that should not be taken for granted because the first few minutes of any medical emergency is invaluable.”

“The founding and formation of the (TNVAC) was a good idea when it was started and has proven to be a great idea over the years for residents in need from Throggs Neck, Country Club and Pelham Bay,” said assemblyman Michael Benedetto. “Hopefully this same trend can continue for many years to come.”

“The (TNVAC) is an institution providing first rate care and emergency services to our families, children and loved ones,” said Klein. “Ensuring the volunteer organization continues to deliver these services and more to their residents is a very important cause. I’m proud to have supported the (TNVAC) in years past and I look forward to continuing to work together in the future to protect the health and safety of all Bronx residents.”

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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