John and Pat Spiech, a longtime Mahwah couple with a history of giving back to the township, were named the 2013 ‘Extra Mile Change Makers’ in Mahwah at a township council meeting Thursday night.
Each November 1, Mahwah celebrates “Extra Mile Day,” a national initiative designed to celebrate locals who “go the extra mile” to make the community better, and to encourage residents to donate time or volunteer in town.
This year, the day will be in honor of John and Pat Spiech, who local officials say together have dedicated 100 years of service to the township.
Thursday night, the Spiechs received a mayoral proclamation naming them the town’s first-ever ‘Extra Mile Change Makers.’ As such, they will be honored by the Extra Mile organization, and their names will be sent to the White House as change makers whose service, “stands out and deserves to be recognized,” according to Extra Mile.
“We forever will be in debt to the Spiech family for over 100 years of collective volunteerism, never to be duplicated in our community,” Mayor Bill Laforet said of the couple.
Also during Thursday night’s presentation, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi gave each Spiech a proclamation from the state Senate and Assembly recognizing 50 years of service.
The township council also presented the pair with a glass globe in recognition of their service, which included John Spiech’s longtime run as a councilmember.
“You’ve not only supported each other, but you’ve been able to accomplish so much individually,” Council President Harry Williams said to the couple when presenting the globe.
Officials read off long lists of the volunteer efforts put forth by the Spiechs over the last 50 years.
For John, the list included being the first ever township fire inspector, a volunteer firefighter, founder of Boy Scout Troop 258, Mahwah Planning Board member, Mahwah Library Board of Trustees Vice President, Mahwah Environmental Commission member, and Township Council President during the construction of town hall and Continental Soldiers Field.
Pat’s list included being a member of the Fire Company Ladies Auxiliary, cub scout den leader, Girl Scout leader, Mahwah Board of Health member, a peer listener and hot line volunteer at Ramapo College, a member of the Task Forces on Childhood Abuse and Teenage Drug and Alcohol Abuse, a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer, and the chairperson of the Mahwah Senior Advisory Committee.
The Spiechs said they were honored by the recognition, and happy to give back to the town they love.
“There was a rumor years ago that Mahwah might be a good place to live,” Pat said. “Now, it’s a fact. Mahwah is a great town. To be a volunteer is to give back, and I think that’s what John and I have done.”
John added, “When you look back over the years…there were so many other people who did great things. I have to thank everybody. I couldn’t have done it without [my wife]…We were lucky, we did a lot.”