FAIR HAVEN — Cecilia Hunt isn’t someone who seeks the spotlight. So, when Gov. Phil Scott commended her decades of volunteerism in his State of the State address Thursday, it came as a surprise.
“... (F)or nearly 40 years, (she has) donated so much of her time to everything from blood drives to food banks and town committees,” Scott said. “She’s made such an impact that her community reached out to let me know how much she means to them.”
“I was shocked,” Hunt said Friday. “Humbled and honored.”
“Ceil,” as she’s known around Fair Haven and Castleton, is a familiar face in both communities. A true mover and shaker, Hunt’s volunteerism is wide reaching.
She sits on the boards of Fair Haven Concerned, Fair Haven Historical Society, Castleton Senior Center and Castleton University Alumni Association. She belongs to numerous committees, including Fair Haven Art Club, the parade committee and Friends of the Fair Haven Free Library. She also volunteers at local Red Cross blood drives and helps organize the town’s outdoor concert series and Fair Haven Fridays summer events.
“She’s ever-present at everything,” said Fair Haven Town Manager Joe Gunter, who recommended Hunt for recognition by the governor.
Gunter said that while Hunt is “one of many” volunteers in Fair Haven, her contributions stand out. “We couldn’t get things done in town without her. We’re proud to have her here.”
“She’s an invaluable resource,” said Lorraine Brown, board president of Fair Haven Historical Society.
Brown worked with Hunt and others to publish an oral history of the town, “Fair Haven Memories.” A second book is in the works.
Raised in Medina, Ohio, which Hunt called “the sweetest little town on Earth,” she said she gets her love of volunteerism from her mother. “She was very active in the community.”
“I’m a very social person,” Hunt said. “I like to meet people and build a sense of community.”
Hunt came to Rutland County in 1986 when her husband, Brad, took a job teaching criminal justice at Castleton University. A year later, they relocated from Castleton to Fair Haven. In short order, she joined the PTO, then the school board.
In 2011, she retired from her job as technology coordinator at Fair Haven Grade School, and turned her attention to volunteerism — and to being a proud mother and grandmother.
Over the years, she’s maintained close ties to Castleton University, where she received a master’s degree in education in 2011. She has been an active member of the school’s alumni association, serving for a time as board president and helping to organize major events like homecoming, reunions and the annual gala. “She’s an extraordinary asset,” said Courtney Widli, director of development and alumni affairs at Castleton. “Her enthusiasm is immeasurable.”
Widli said Hunt is well-known around campus, and is always eager to interact with current students, saying she “instills a sense of what it means to be a Spartan.”
“We are beyond grateful for her contributions to the university,” Widli said.
While Hunt said she is grateful for Scott’s honor, she was eager to share the glory and acknowledge all the other people who volunteer alongside her.
“I am one person. I don’t do anything in a vacuum,” she said. “There are so many of us. … It’s what makes Vermont such a great place.”
For those who are looking to volunteer but intimidated to take the first step, Hunt said to “take a friend with you.” Also, she suggested that current volunteers should invite someone they think might be interested.
If all else fails, Hunt said to give her a call. “I’ll help them get involved.”