Volunteering is ‘Fair’ Game for Roger Poggio
Roger Poggio realized the benefit of giving back and getting involved in the community when his now-grown son was just five years old. Roger had been a boy scout growing up and when he signed his son up, he began to volunteer.
Though his son has long since aged out of boy scouts, Roger is still involved today. Through that involvement, he met Jeanne Lewis and Michael Kennedy, who has been involved in the North Haven Fair since he was young along with his parents.
“Mike, Jeanne, and I work together for many events for anywhere from 50 to 300 people to benefit the Boy Scouts,” says Roger. “We work well together and they are also involved in the North Haven Fair. Two years ago, they invited me along to help. I saw what the fair does and how it operates and I liked what I saw, so I joined in.”
When Roger first began volunteering with the North Haven Fair Association (NHFA), he stepped in to help wherever he could. He carried over some of the skills from his event planning for the boy scouts where he often can be found in the kitchen. At the fair, Roger worked behind the scenes in the NHFA’s kitchen where he prepared food and meals for the volunteers.
Like many volunteers, Roger’s efforts extend well beyond the fair season. As time went by and his commitment was apparent, Roger was asked to join the board of the NHFA.
As a board member, he attends monthly meetings, as well as pitching in wherever needed. Roger assisted the president of the NHFA with food vendors. He also could often be found on the fairgrounds, helping the maintenance crew.
“I did anything they needed, like raking, but I had a setback in December,” says Roger. “I had triple bypass surgery on my heart, so that slowed me down a lot.”
Due to his surgery, Roger couldn’t physically do as much as he was used to doing in the past, but he still wanted to be involved. After the 2020 North Haven Fair was canceled due to COVID, the NHFA began to brainstorm ideas to keep the fair on people’s minds and to bring people to the fairgrounds.
A variety of events were announced, including a Fair Food Fest, which will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; a Craft Barn Series on Saturdays, June 19, July 24, Aug. 14, Sept. 11, and Oct. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and a monthly collection series to benefit local organizations.
“We want to keep the North Haven Fair name out in the community and want to be seen and known,” says Roger. “After my surgery, one thing I could do organize the community collections to help the community, so I took that on.”
The NHFA announced monthly collections in several categories, including food, pets, and babies with items for each being accepted at each event. The first collection was held on May 1 with donations being made to North Haven Community Services and The Animal Haven.
Upcoming collections will be held on Saturdays, June 19, July 24, Aug. 14, Sept. 18, Oct. 2, Nov. 6, and Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the North Haven Fairgrounds, 290 Washington Ave., North Haven. On Saturdays, June 19, July 24, Aug. 14, and Oct. 2, the collection will also coincide with the NHFA’s Craft Barn Outdoor Series.
Volunteers request that donations not include anything in glass containers. Gift cards are also welcome in each category.
For the food collection, requests include non-perishable food items and canned goods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, tuna, beans, pasta, rice, sauces, soups, gravies, cereal, oatmeal, peanut butter, and powdered milk.
Donations being collected for pets include wet and dry pet food, pet treats, pee pads, Windex, bleach, disinfecting wipes, towels, sheets, bedding, paper towels, trash bags, laundry detergent, dish soap, and latex/nitrile gloves.
The collection of baby items is for new items only. Suggested donations are diapers and pull-ups, wipes, baby powder, baby wash, shampoo, blankets, crib sheets, baby food and cereal, and small toys.
In addition to organizing the monthly collections at the fairgrounds, Roger has also continued to volunteer with the Boy Scouts with the same troop his son was a part of when he was little. Over the years, Roger has served on the board of directors, the council, and at the troop level.
“I’ve been involved for what feels like forever as I enjoyed the program when I was young and my son, who is now 37, got involved as a 1st-grader,” says Roger, who also has three daughters and six grandchildren. “It’s about the enjoyment of the outdoor and what the program does for young men kept me going even after my son stopped.”
As part of the boy scouts, Roger has helped organize a number of events over the years, including an Oktoberfest, clay shoots, and an annual game dinner, which was held last weekend. For that, Roger prepared more than 600 woodchuck and bison raviolis. In the past, they have created cricket brownies, mealworm cupcakes, and used edible ants and grasshoppers in other concoctions.
Roger, who is also the troop’s treasurer and on the board of directors at his condominium association, hasn’t always enjoyed cooking, but he now enjoys it. He tries to recreate meals his mother made as “she was the most wonderful cook in the world.”
In addition to helping organize events and cook, Roger is also the troop’s treasurer. One of Roger’s favorite things about volunteering is the people he has met and the new opportunities they have introduced him to.
“The friends I’ve made are astronomical,” says Roger. “As I’m able to, I’ll do more because I enjoy doing things, helping people, and working with people.”