Cathy Vodopivec honored for community services


After decades of giving, these eight upstanding citizens were recognized for their diverse acts of community service. On Nov. 5, Assemblyman Brian Curran honored these women who have dedicated themselves to and prioritized the bettering of their communities. Each woman’s work has created positive changes in the world through their passion and determination to serve others.

“The one thing that all eight of these women have in common is their love and devotion to their community and their neighbors,” Curran said. “Whether it is their contributions to public safety, in local government, drug prevention, boy scouting, or children with disabilities or allergies, these eight honorees have made the conscious decision to bring their expertise and efforts to better their community.”

Cathy Vodopivec of Freeport has been recognized for her community service between her work at the church and her work in scouting. Despite her extensive list of volunteerism, Vodopivec was not expecting this honor. 

“This was something I grew up with; giving back to your community by doing service and making people happy,” Vodopivec said. “It’s just the way I was brought up.”

Following the involvement with her son’s boy scout troop, Vodopivec became an active scouting leader in 2012, transitioning from the troop mother who ensured proper supervision to an upstanding and involved individual. 

“Scouting has so much to offer. Scouting is alive and well, and we not only need volunteers, but we need people to bring their kids to learn and share,” Vodopivec said. “We want to educate and bring up the leaders for tomorrow.”

For the past 11 years, Vodopivec has been dedicating herself to varying councils, committees, and programs. Vodopivec maintains a plethora of responsibilities when it comes to bettering her community and those within. 

She is a member of various scouting committees including the Special Needs Scouting Committee for the Theodore Roosevelt Council, the diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting for Rockville Centre, the committee for Troop 24 in Baldwin, and the Sagamore Service unit, which is a group of adults that contribute service to the Theodore Roosevelt Council . Vodopivec also volunteers at summer Canoe Races for ACDS, Adult Children with Down Syndrome 5 Plus Sports Program.

In addition, Vodopivec takes on numerous authoritative roles as well, such as the Merit Badge Counselor and Religious Emblems Coordinator for all of Scouting, the Committee Chair and Adult Leader for Cub Scouts Pack 824, and the Charter Organization Representative and Committee Chair for Sea Scout Ship 18. 

As a prominent leader, Vodopivec is able to not only connect with those she’s helping but takes immense pride in their success. 

“Seeing the young men and women grow, achieve, and just try something new is incredibly fulfilling,” Vodopivec said. “To see the smile on their faces when they accomplish something they didn’t think they could do, especially with the special needs group where they’re always stigmatized as ‘oh you can’t do this,’ or ‘you’ll never amount,’ is just amazing.”

Drawing inspiration and motivation from students, especially those with special needs, pushes Vodopivec to be the best version of herself. When speaking of those she teaches, in both scouting and classroom settings, Vodopivec lauded the determination and resilience of her learners.

“It’s incredible to see the overall accomplishments and watch as they go to the next level, and to look at the fact that they did it on their own without anybody else,” Vodopivec said. “Especially with the special needs students and scouts, the one thing I’ve learned is that the only thing keeping me from doing something is myself.”

Though all aspects of her work requires a leadership and teaching role, Vodopivec maintains an open mind when it comes to learning from the people she works with. Whether it be children or adults in scouting or in teaching, Vodopivec’s main goal is to learn as much from her students as she can. 

“It’s important to learn from them because they have a lot to offer,” Vodopivec said. “They can teach you so much about the world that you don’t see as an adult because, as an adult, you become fixed in your ways. And they open you up to all new perspectives.” 

Additionally, Vodopivec emphasized the importance of teaching in all aspects of life, not solely in the classroom. When asked what inspires her to continue her leadership roles, Vodopivec turned the spotlight to prioritizing a child’s learning experience.

“I see with the kids that they’re so hungry for knowledge, and it’s important for people to give them the time to teach them something,” Vodopivec said. “It doesn’t have to be in a textbook, but just teach them something or share an experience.”

Speaking on the eagerness of students to learn and absorb knowledge, Vodopivec noted that her main source of inspiration comes from their enthusiasm, energy, and joy. 

“If I can make a difference in one individual and give them an opportunity that they wouldn’t have had, then my day is complete,” Vodopivec said.

Through over a decade of dedicated service, Vodopivec has significantly enhanced the lives of those she has worked alongside and taught, making Long Island a more welcoming place for people of all walks of life.