November 04, 2020| People
By: Bill Woolley
It’s nearly impossible to have volunteered for the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, during the eight years of its existence, and not have run into her at some point.
Linda Karpiak was present for the birth of the organization, having noticed plans for its formation in a Facebook post back in 2012. Far more than just clicking a “like” icon in response, she became a founding member of the LHF and currently serves on its board of trustees.
“I believe my first volunteer event was at a fundraiser held at the Lake Hopatcong Golf Club,” Linda recalled. “I’ve been a cheerleader and supporter ever since.”
Linda may well have a dresser drawer full of LHF volunteer T-shirts. Over the years, she has lent her energies to Block Parties, Lake Loops, litter cleanups, trail maintenance and the Water Scouts program.
"Linda is one of our many volunteers we can always count on," said LHF Grants and Program Manager Donna Macalle-Holly. "She’s been a volunteer Water Scout since 2013, and every year, like clockwork, Linda helps to protect our lake by scouting her assigned area for invasive water chestnut."
Linda grew up in Manasquan on the Jersey shore, less than 10 miles south of Asbury Park. She also used to live on a horse farm in Howell, about a 20-minute drive inland, but has lived in Hopatcong’s Davis Cove for the last 22 years.
Employed in the pharmaceutical field for 25 years, mostly in oncology research, Linda currently works for Novartis. These days, she’s working on an immunotherapy product for the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma.
“[Novartis] supports the LHF through their ‘Dollars for Doers’ program where money is given to the organization for my volunteer hours, as well as a company matching program for my donations,” noted Linda
When she’s not working, you might catch the indefatigable Linda gardening, swimming, diving, paddle-boarding, running, playing tennis, or doing yoga.
She also enjoys horseback riding and volunteering at a local farm, where she assists with therapy rides for children and young adults with autism and other disabilities.
Always eager to welcome others to share in her love of lake life, Linda has hosted open-water swims for local triathletes at Lake Hopatcong. Some appreciate the opportunity to practice before a race, while others want to overcome a fear of open water.
"Linda typifies everything good in volunteerism. She's dedicated, hardworking, and caring," said LHF Board Chairman Marty Kane. "Our organization could not exist without amazing people like her."
Of all the volunteer work Linda has done for the LHF, her most satisfying effort has been invested in the B-SAFE dock-numbering program. The dock signs help emergency personnel respond to emergencies more efficiently.
Linda was compellingly prompted by a fire at a neighbor’s boathouse. The Dressners had recently renovated the historical 1906 structure on their Elba Avenue property, but it went up in flames in July of 2012.
“The boater who witnessed the fire couldn’t provide an exact location to the 911 dispatcher,” Linda recalled.
The Dressners weren’t home at the time and, according to the New Jersey Herald, firefighters were delayed by five or six critical minutes in locating the boathouse.
“It was important for me to be a part of the team that put the program in place,” Linda said. “I’m humbled every time I see a blue numbered sign hung on someone’s dock or boathouse.”
"Linda undertook the dock numbering program and saw it through to a very successful conclusion that will someday save someone's house or even a life," Marty said.
Linda’s spirit of volunteerism has also rubbed off on her two sons, Nicholas (20), and Matthew (18). They’ve both volunteered for the LHF and completed Eagle Scout projects in conjunction with the organization’s initiatives.
Nicholas led the installation of the native mass planting garden at the former Hopatcong train station, now home to the LHF offices and Environmental and Cultural Center. The garden helps educate the lake community about native plants and their benefits.
Matthew attended training sessions that focused on trail clearing, maintenance techniques, and trailblazing. He led volunteer work on several trail spurs of the Lake Hopatcong Trail, and also helped design, build and install trail access and parking signs.
“I first decided to volunteer to meet new friends while helping foster a vibrant, healthy Lake Hopatcong,” Linda said. “All along the way, I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie and positive energy, and am looking forward to being able to volunteer at live events again.”
We’ll definitely second that emotion, Linda.