Rachel Leibacher cant say no when someone needs a hand.
The Briarcliff Manor volunteer firefighter has been giving her time to her community for nearly three decades. From doing 5K runs to raising funds for the library, shes always there volunteering to help. Its something she feels compelled to do.
Everyone knows if they ask me to do something, I wont say no, she said.
Leibacher, who also works as an emergency medical technician, joined the volunteer fire department 29 years ago, following in the footsteps of her brothers and twin sister. In 2002, her brother, who was not working as a firefighter at the time, was killed in a fire in Springfield, Mass. She is the only sibling who remains an active firefighter.
The drive to give is almost a compulsion for Leibacher, who cant pinpoint its origin. She says being the daughter of a minister helped foster a strong sense of community outreach and support, though it isnt the sole source of her giving personality.
When not battling fires or riding an ambulance as an EMT, Leibacher delves into the parent teacher organization and her church committees and boards. Shes happy to offer her services to almost any of the charitable groups and fundraising efforts around town and says that if she turns something down its generally because she doesnt have enough time for everything.
Leibacher said one of her biggest challenges as an EMT is keeping the people she helps at arms reach. If she allows herself to personalize the experience, she runs the risk of internalizing too much and getting off her game on the next call.
Through all the sorrow she witnesses, Leibacher finds strength in her family. Her husband, Tom, joins her with church activities and her son, Tommy, is a constant source of inspiration for her. At 22, the youngest Leibacher has been through more than 150 operations for physical ailments dating to his birth.
If you saw him walk through the room today, youd think he is the healthiest man in the world, Leibacher said with pride.
Leibacher said she has no desire to lead events or organize fundraisers. She just wants to be there to help. She doesnt envision a time when she will say no and stop being an all-around volunteer for her community. Im just someone who loves to help others."
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