How I Became A Volunteer

Stacy SledgeBy Stacy Sledge      December 24, 2020

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How I Became A Volunteer
Stacy Sledge was honored in 2010 as a Voluteer of the Year.
As an unincorporated mountain community, in order to meet its needs where the County can’t or doesn’t, Topanga has always been a community of volunteers. The “Topanga Community Dictionary” defines a volunteer as “someone who selflessly works full time for no pay in organizations that have become so essential to the community’s well-being, that they can’t stop.” For newcomers, volunteering is one of the best ways to get to know your new home, as Sledge learned. A Texas transplant to Topanga in 2000, Sledge logged 5,000 volunteer hours in her first ten years of service since she “accidently” started as an instant member of The Topanga Town Council. She recently retired after 20 years as president and shares her volunteer experience for those coming up. After buying my Topanga home in January 2000, one of the first things I did was to call Jack MacNeil to survey my property. The property boundary lines were a bit obscure since no one around me had a fence outlining their claim on the wilderness, which I found to be wonderful. I found the closest neighbors to be raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, and an occasional deer or bobcat. Jack determined the precise mapping of my land, then asked if I knew anyone in Topanga. I said, “Yes. You and my realtor.” He smiled and asked why I moved to Topanga. I gave a very unique answer, “To get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and ground my roots in actual soil.” He chuckled, knowing he had heard that story a few times, and said that the best and fastest way to meet people is to volunteer in the community. He asked what my interests were, to which I said charity work of many causes, but that I was especially interested in solving emergencies. Jack’s grinning smile got ever so big and he said, “You might consider TCEP.” He told me to call (310) 455-3000 to leave a message and that someone would contact me very soon. An aside: For those who don’t know Jack, he and his wife, Pat, along with a few other Topangans, started the Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness (TCEP) after the 1993 Malibu Topanga fire. I called and left a message that very day. Within 24 hours, a really nice guy by the name of Dale Robinette returned my call. He said to come to a meeting on Wednesday at TCEP’s Emergency Operations Center, a small single-wide trailer on Church Road. When I arrived, Dale and two other gentlemen were discussing the upcoming Topanga Do-Gooder’s awards, an event that honors residents who graciously give their time and sweat equity to meaningful causes in our town. I was a bit confused as to what this had to do with emergency preparedness, but I joined in.
This is how Stacy Sledge gets things done. It’s all about the smile.
A nomination made by the community was now being voted on. Three hands went up in the air unanimously voting for a woman named, Rosi Dagit. (She and her team of volunteers have made a huge impact on our environment and wildlife, and she continues to this day as Sr. Biologist of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, RCDSMM, to help preserve Topanga as a wildland mountain community)

As the three hands were simultaneously in the air, they turned to see my hand was not up. “So, Stacy, what do you think about Rosi?” After a big gulp from being put on the spot, I remarked that I didn’t personally know her, but she sounded like an amazing woman with all that she does for the canyon. Again, the other hands waited for mine to go up to complete the vote. My hand went high in the air.
A few reports were given, then as I recall, a discussion about the increase of traffic and speeding on Topanga Canyon Boulevard were addressed at length. Finally, there was the announcement of the new, 2000 Topanga Emergency Access Sticker. Ahhhh, an emergency preparedness topic!

After the meeting, I inquired as to why an emergency group would have discussed traffic, crime, creek cleanup, and other non-emergency related subjects. Dale then informed me that I was at a Topanga Town Council meeting. “Uhhh, what meeting am I at,” I asked, perplexed. Dale elaborated that the Topanga Town Council decided in 1994, following the 1993 fire, to share their phone number with TCEP. So, when I left a message, he thought I wanted to come to a Town Council meeting. I gingerly told him my real interest was in emergency work. Dale then said with a grin, “Well, sorry, you already voted. You are now a member of the Topanga Town Council!” After proudly serving my 20th year on the Town Council, I can now say I know a lot more people. And yes, I am also a volunteer with TCEP.

Stacy Sledge has been a leading volunteer in Topanga Canyon for both TCEP and the Town Council, where she was president (now retired) for 20 years. In 2010, she was honored by the Board of Supervisors Third District as Volunteer of The Year.

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By Stacy Sledge
Stacy Sledge
      December 24, 2020

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