Dennis Villavicencio, business owner and a local on-call volunteer firefighter/EMT, was honored Friday evening, Jan. 27, as a part of Hero Appreciation Months, sponsored by the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce. The awards program was started 10 years ago by husband and wife Peter Sodhy and Leah Launey, SFCC board members, to show appreciation for firefighters, law enforcement, and military personnel.
Peter Sodhy, SFCC president, said discounts offered to these “heroes” helps to generate revenue for member businesses in the off-season that offer 10 or 20 percent discounts. In the past decade, the program has thanked and recognized scores of public servants through the informal Friday night gatherings.
Also honored at Friday night’s ceremony was the Cal Fire agency, which mans a station in Three Rivers. Cal Fire Captain Cyra Doss, who has been stationed on and off in Three Rivers since the late 1990s, accepted the award on behalf of Cal Fire.
Currently, Cal Fire has two captains, three engineers, and three firefighters stationed in Three Rivers. Captain Doss said there are at least three Cal Fire personnel on duty at all times.
Dennis Villavicencio— To honor Dennis for his volunteer on-call work as a firefighter is important but only the tip of the iceberg of what he does as a community servant. First, he is a husband and father of two children who are in the first and third grades at Three Rivers School, which Dennis also attended in his youth.
Dennis credits his wife, Stacie, for having the understanding to deal with the emergency calls that come in at all hours.
If 911 is dialed from Three Rivers, chances are Dennis will be among those first responders.
In his spare time, Dennis is a practicing attorney, owns and operates Sequoia Village Inn and Buckeye Tree Lodge in Three Rivers with 18 employees, and is the longtime president of the Improvement District No. 1 water district (Alta Acres). He is also an endurance athlete who usually finishes at the front of the pack.
During the budgetary shutdown of the national parks in October 2014, Dennis spearheaded a demonstration at the Sequoia National Park entrance to put pressure on Congress to reopen the parks.
Of all the things Dennis does daily, he has dedicated his life to helping others.
“When I was young, I read a great book by Gale Sayers called I am Third,” Dennis said. “I am not impressed by wealth, money, or fame. While Gale was a great athlete, his real success came in what he did off the field for others. I am third.”
Hopefully, no one will ever need Dennis to come to their rescue, but if they do, he will be there.