Nancy Irwin – MFi 2018 Volunteer Awards nominee
Nancy Irwin was suggested for recognition in the MFi 2018 Volunteer Awards by Maggie Joseph. The following is Maggie’s eloquent description of how Nancy crafted what we all know and love as the Swap:
Every town has something to be proud of and Medfield is no exception. Since 1986, when the Transfer Station opened, it has provided a convenient place for garbage disposal. However, it has now morphed into something distinctive: a spot where the community can dispose of its trash and also dispose of unwanted items as well as pick up all kinds of stuff: furniture, kitchen ware, books, and much, much more. And with time, its name has morphed too, from the ugly word “THE DUMP,” to the functional word, THE TRANSFER STATION, part of which bears the friendly name, The SWAP. Popular with the Medfield community, the SWAP is a place to discard or to acquire stuff and to meet other “swappers” – and that is due in large part to Nancy Irwin who has transformed it from a disorderly and sometimes chaotic area into an organized, environmentally friendly and methodically arranged place to “shop.”
In 2008, Nancy Irwin started volunteering in the SWAP. In fair weather or foul, she has remained committed to her mission of recycling articles or saving what the community might find useful. She has been appointed Coordinator by the Transfer Station and Recycling Committee, and has the support of volunteers (like MaryPat who joined her in 2013) all of whom have contributed to the success of the SWAP.
Previously, people would wander around all day searching for items that were randomly placed. As Coordinator, Nancy now manages shoppers with an efficient use of time and place by making sure that they are allowed only thirty minutes a day to “shop,” so that everyone has a chance for the fair disposal or pick-up of goods. She also makes sure that articles are arranged by type of use, instead of being thrown together in a mish-mash of categories.
In addition, her petitions to the town for shelter from the elements were finally met with success. Two small tents to store items were donated by MaryPat, and Nancy also procured four to six umbrellas to protect people and the items themselves from the weather. Memo has donated two canopies, and the Town has purchased two permanent tents and one canopy. Eventually, Nancy petitioned the Town to pave the area, as it was unsafe.
Finally, through the environmentally-conscious spirit that has impelled Nancy to remain steadfast in her mission to recycle or re-use, the SWAP also saves the town a lot of money. It costs between $49 and $54 per ton to recycle items from the Transfer Station, but the amount decreases during the six months that the SWAP is open, a true benefit to the town. And once it is closed, Nancy and other volunteers are still busy, taking down and storing tables, shelves, bins, dollies, supplies, and canopies, plus recruiting volunteers for the next season.
Nancy volunteers in St Edward the Confessor parish as well. She helps with meals for the needy, making sixty meals a year for Haley House in Boston. She knits mittens for the homeless through the “One Family Knitters” at St. Edward’s. Nancy also coordinates the church’s Prayer Shawl Ministry and is the Usher Coordinator at St. Edward’s.