For Alden English, volunteering in the community is just a way of life. Whether it be planting trees, serving his church or driving seniors to medical appointments, he has spent 45 years doing his part to make Olney a better place.
“I just think you do what you can do while you can still do it. If not, you start to rust,” said English, 73.
His efforts were recognized Sunday when Greater Olney Civic Association President Barbara Falcigno honored English with the President’s Award at GOCA’s Annual Awards Ceremony, held at Longwood Recreation Center.
Each year, GOCA’s president acknowledges and expresses his or her personal thanks to an individual or group of his choice. Unlike the other awards, the recipient of this award is revealed at the ceremony.
Falcigno chose to honor English, who has served the community in multiple ways since moving to Olney in 1968.
English said he was surprised by the honor.
“It was very nice,” he said. “It’s just the little things you do in life, but I guess the little things all add up.”
Most recently, English is credited with working with a property owner to get 4,761 square feet of property donated to the Sandy Spring Fire Department’s Station 40, which is critical for future expansion.
“This was no easy task and took lots of perseverance,” said Falcigno. “Alden has always been one to stand up for what is right, and he knew that the right thing was to make the land available for the future needs of our community. Olney may not see an expanded station for many years, but because of Alden’s work this year, it will be possible when needed.”
The station at 17911 Georgia Ave. was built in 1971,and was not designed for larger and heavier equipment used today.
When it opened, the department developed an agreement with the adjacent property owner to use the open field to the north of the station for events in exchange for maintaining it, English said.
He was instrumental in working with the owner to set the wheels in motion back then and again now for the land donation.
Spring Arbor, a 92-unit assisted facility, currently is proposed for the 38-acre parcel located just north of the fire station.
English worked with both the original property owners (the Danshes family) and the new owners (H.H. Hunt) to work out the land donation to the fire station.
Rebecca Walker, an attorney from the Rockville law firm of Miles and Stockbridge representing the Danshes family, said they were asked by the fire department to donate a portion of the property as part of the development.
“The applicant desired to do so if we were able to work it in to our design,” she said. “We had several meetings with Alden and the fire department leadership and were able to reach an agreement that benefits everyone.”
Walker said the project is still at the special exception phase, but she expects the land to be deeded as part of the preliminary plan.
English said the additional land will allow the department to add at least two 18-foot-wide bays, which will also create space underneath, perhaps for a community room or a place to display department memorabilia.
English has been involved with the fire department since 1969. Besides running emergency medical and fire calls, he served in several leadership positions, including president. He was honored with awards for outstanding service in 2011 and 2012.
English is also involved in various ways at Oakdale Emory United Methodist Church, where he served on the building committee for 45 years, and as building engineer for 10 years.
With his love of plants and landscaping, his former business, English Gardens Plant Center, planted many of the trees in the then new Olney Mill subdivision as well as along Route 108. When the new Olney Square community was built surrounding the garden center, he hosted its annual summer picnics at his home.
When Olney began to grow in the early 1970’s there was a need for more activities for growing families. English and a few others put their heads together and founded the Olney Boys Club, which later became the Olney Boys and Girls Community Sports Association, now serving more than 7,000 children.
English is not ready to slow down just yet. He recently got involved with Olney Home for Life, by providing free transportation to seniors and the disabled, mostly to medical appointments.