The Webster Volunteer Fire Department’s Ladies’ Auxiliary organized itself quickly. Founded by firemen’s wives in July of 1941, its by-laws were in place by September, with meetings held soon after for wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters of firemen 18 years and older. Fundraisers for WVFDI members, provisioning at large fires, emergency and disaster services, and donations to charitable organizations began immediately. By 1942, they had begun their 50-year span of award-winning marching in local parades. Though they no longer march, the Auxiliary still attends Monroe County Marching Unit meetings.
By the 1970s, committees included Finance, Publicity, Emergency, Sunshine, Telephone, and Parade and Carnival. A board of directors was appointed every two years by the incoming president. The last three decades of the twentieth century saw an increase in the number of charitable organizations served, as well as the amount of support provided. Webster area veterans, girl scouts, schools, Community Chest, VNS, Open Door Mission, Webster Museum, Comfort Care Home, Ronald McDonald House, and the Finger Lakes Burn Association all benefitted from their efforts. Local members of the military serving in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and other struggles regularly received care packages of treats and personal items.
The Ladies’ Auxiliary started their Carnival fundraising with a cake booth, adding in 1962 full meals served in their own building, and table seating in 1975. Each October, they host refreshments at the Fire Association’s Open House. Every three years, 5-6 members take the Monroe County Department of Health Training and are certified in level 2 food safety, along with the firefighter’s carnival training. The Auxiliary’s fish fry, beef barbecue, fried dough, fried waffles, and salt potatoes are a huge success. They also serve sandwiches, walking tacos, pies, ice cream, brownie sundaes, and beverages.
Starting during the Vietnam War, and continuing to the present day, Military Boxes are purchased, filled, and sent monthly to local servicemen and servicewomen on overseas battleground tours of duty, sometimes as many as 17 boxes a month.
During the 2008-2009 flu epidemic, the WVFDI matched funds with the Auxiliary to purchase supplies of sanitizers, tissues, and cleaning supplies for elementary schools. Since then, the Auxiliary has supported the Back Pack Program (providing food for underprivileged Webster children) and Jack’s Foundation for a new playground. The Webster Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary Service Award is a monetary service award presented to two graduating seniors in good academic standing. Candidates are chosen based on their documented volunteer contributions to the community.
In 2012, the Ladies’ Auxiliary voted to become members of the Webster Volunteer Fire Department as the Active Auxiliary Committee of the WVFDI. They are not active firemen but are active members of the WVFDI. That same year the Auxiliary members provided generously during the Christmas Eve fire and ambush of First Responders. They staffed West Webster Bay Road Firehouse for 10 hours providing food, beverages, and supplies to the DEC, SWAT Team, and active firefighters, and maintained the same services at Webster Station 1 for WVFD and visiting firemen and women from NY State, out-of-state, and Canada.
In 2016, the WVFDI Ladies’ Auxiliary celebrated its 75th Anniversary of support for Webster firefighters and service to the Webster Community. Their Mission Statement reads: “to assist the Department at fire scene support, station support, and any other possible ways, and to meet for its own purposes.” They continue to work emergency incidents, prepare food for monthly department meetings, host Open House, Parade of Lights, and Fire Prevention events, complete pre-approved training as suggested by the department or the auxiliary, handle work and funeral details, and act as delegates for county or Fire Department meetings. For years, the Auxiliary, under the leadership of Mary Craft, has created many fire- and auxiliary-related Christmas trees for the Webster Museum’s annual contest. When they win, which is often, they double the prize money and donate it all to the museum. The Auxiliary participates in several events with the West Webster and Penfield Auxiliaries. In June of 2016, Auxiliary members walked in shifts for 12 hours during the Relay for Life cancer fundraiser. They served snacks and water at their Firemen’s Field building.
At the June 8, 2017 village meeting, Mayor John Cahill and the Village Trustees presented a Proclamation to honor and applaud the Webster Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary who give back to the community and support those in need. The Auxiliary is proud to be part of an all-volunteer Fire Department that has served our community faithfully for over 100 years.
- Esther A. Dunn, WEBSTER…Through the Years (Webster Town Board, 1971)
- Robert Gatherwood, A Brief History of the Webster Fire Department
- Judy A. Klem and Peter G. Klem III, The Webster Volunteer Fire Department, 1906-2006
- Bea Smith and Nancy Willard, Ladies’ Auxiliary of the WVFA, for Auxiliary History