By Dawn M Chiossi
Vamp it up: the expression itself is fun. Its very definition designates enjoyment, embellishment, and even advancement. It brings to mind makeovers, refurbishments, and remodeling. But the expression designates even more…Vamp it up brings to mind the wow factor, something filled with wonderful possibilities. In fact, it’s a perfect name and definition for Denville’s Vamp Up Vet’s Field Project Committee.
The Vamp Up Vet’s Project Committee is a volunteer organization made up of enthusiastic Denville community members with several things in common; they possess a great love of their kids, athletics, a great sense of community spirit, and a deep desire to give back.
This Denville committee is made up of real devoted fans, rallying around their kids and student athletes, watching them, supporting them, getting involved in the action, cheering along with them for their wins, and mourning along with them for their losses. They encourage and console, and even become enveloped in the games.
But what if these fans had trouble following them? The enjoyment factor would be greatly diminished, and that’s where the idea Vamp Up Vets Field comes in. With a can-do attitude, and generous spirit, this relatively new organization is made up of Denville citizens, mostly parents, raising funds to vamp up the turf field at Veteran’s Memorial Field, located at 34 Zeek Road.
Veterans Memorial Field is the only turf field in Denville and is utilized for football, cheerleading, rugby, lacrosse and soccer, all sorts of sports and games. In Denville, Veteran’s Memorial Field is considered the field with the large tank on it. It is a symbol of their community spirit as well as a landmark. According to Co-Founder of Vamp Up Vets, Linda Rodriguez, Veterans Memorial Field is the hub of the town. The turf field itself was built approximately three years ago, and Rodriguez can’t say enough about it. “It is 100 percent community driven, it’s wonderful.”
The Vamp Up Vets Field Project and Committee is the inspiration of parents and fans, Laura Wagner and Linda Rodriguez, formed because of a very practical reason. It all began one day when they and the rest of the parents were attending one of the many sports games and had trouble following it.
In particular they want to see taller ADA-compliant bleachers in order to fully view the players and their plays instead of the backs of the sideline coaches. In addition, they realized a scoreboard would allow everyone to keep better track of the action, as well as a press box and a new sound system to hear the games better.
Afterwards, when talking with other fans and parents, they discovered that every single one of them all shared the same concerns and collectively wanted to see the same things.
Dismayed because the turf was so stunning, these industrious parents soon let thoughts and ideas form into plans. “While we love the turf itself…It is beautiful. We decided we’d enjoy the games more with just a few improvements. “We want to enhance the experience of the games,” Wagner tells.
These improvements are key.
“None of these things are here now,” Wagner discloses. “The bleachers we have now are too low to view what is going on.” She asserts that the committee would like raised bleachers to fit an audience of 150 people, as well as much more. Their ultimate goal is to have improvements completed in time for the 2019 fall sports season, and they are hoping to raise more than $100,000.
Perhaps they may seem like a standard organization, but there is something special about Vamp Up Vets. Early on they decided to spend their time, energies and talents on fundraising to help out those who needed it instead of increasing the local tax burden.
Despite being formed such a short while ago (Wagner discloses that the organization has only been formed last March), both Wagner and Rodriguez are extremely excited regarding their goals. “We are so excited, we soon realized we could do this!”
This committee boasts approximately six to eight core members, with more volunteers coming out to lend their assistance for various events and activities and fundraisers. Springing into action, these committed parents and fans already raised an impressive $70,000 for their primary goals. Many donations from their local sports teams poured in, including: Denville Dawgs Rugby, Renegades Lacrosse, Hub Soccer of Denville, and Denville Blue Angels Football.
“We are on the fast track now, well on our way,” Wagner enthuses.
Wagner isn’t the only one who is elated. The whole town of Denville, from Mayor Tom Andes to everyone on down has rallied around this great organization.
“The community has been wonderful,” Wagner discloses.
While it sounds like an ambitious project with all that goes with it, for the Vamp Up Vets committee, it’s all about giving back, assisting others, and paying it forward as well as making improvements to the field.
In talking to both Wagner and Rodriguez, it is easy to see their pride and how they pour their energies and hard work in their numerous fundraisers. Held in October, both Wagner and Rodriguez can’t say enough regarding their extremely popular Food Truck Festival. With approximately 20 food trucks and more, this family event was so popular that the town showed up in droves to support and celebrate this great event. Kick starting their goals into making them a reality, an impressive $40,000 was raised. “It was awesome,” Rodriguez says.
Having fun and enjoying themselves with various events, there was a First Responder’s Calendar offered. As well as keeping track of important events for residents, the 13-month calendar is a tribute to Denville’s Police, Fire, CERT, DPW, and OEM members. It even highlighted several animals from the Denville Animal Shelter. Before the holidays, there was even an opportunity to meet the models and photographer. All proceeds go to benefit the Vamp It Up Vets.
Both Wagner and Rodriguez are particularly excited regarding their latest fundraiser entitled Honor A Vet Project, just perfect fitting in with the spirit of Veterans Memorial Field. The fundraiser has been ongoing since the holidays and it is still going strong. This is a unique and striking way to honor the veteran in people’s lives–living or deceased — by designing and purchasing a custom-made plaque or keepsake plaque, just perfect for gift giving.
Wagner explains that the plaques will hold the place of honor mounted on the wooden fence lining the driveway at the park after the improvements are completed. Plaques are 12” by 7.5” and were the creation of Denville Resident, Vicki Harrison and Laser Anything. Cost will be $100 and the plaques are made of colored acrylic with a protective clear acrylic plastic coating. They are gold paint filled and engraved with the service member’s name, rank, branch of service, emblem and service dates.
With the purchase of a plaque people can also purchase a smaller keepsake version for $25.00. These plaques do not have the coating, but shipping is free.
“The plaques are a wonderful way to honor our veterans who have given so much to our country. No two plaques are alike and they are just stunning. They brought a beautiful vision to life,” Wagner enthuses. Sample plaques have been on display at Town Hall and the Denville Public Library.
Getting closer to their goals every day, the Vamp Up Vets team have already surpassed their projected amount and both Wagner and Rodriguez are eagerly anticipating the days yet to come.
“We are about halfway there on the bleachers,” Rodriguez says and she is hoping that even more will be completed by the spring, so that everything will be completed for the fall season.
“The kids love the idea,” Wagner tells. “They just love the field, and that makes everything so much better.”
But it isn’t just the student athletes that benefit from Vamp Up Vets, Denville itself has responded to their hard work excitement for the project. “The whole town is energized,” Wagner prides, “It’s great.”
So much more than just supporting their children, so much more than just rallying around student athletes, when asked what their favorite thing about the project is, both Wagner and Rodriguez say the same thing, the wonderful way the community has stepped up to support them.
“Denville is such a wonderful town with a community feel,” they both agree. “People dig in to help in any way they could. They are so invested to fix any problem. It’s wonderful to see them come together as a community,” Wagner tells, and Rodriguez agrees. “Denville’s such a wonderful tight knit community, they really make things happen.” In addition to the way they support and celebrate the organization, Rodriguez is impressed and awed by the town’s generosity. “Denville is so incredibly generous,” she remarks. “We are all so busy with work, home, family, whatever, yet it’s amazing that people will show up to help. They want to spend time with us to celebrate these events. It’s awesome.”
For further information or details on the Vamp Up Vets or to purchase a plaque for a veteran, please contact email@example.com