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Volunteer Spotlight: Ford Sayre Vice Chair Has Family Link to Ski Council’s Start

  • Pam Mobilia's father, Dave Holbrook, was one of the first children in the Upper Valley to take ski lessons from the late Ford Sayre, for whom the nonprofit Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council is named. Holbrook is shown here jumping at around age 8 circa 1939.

    Pam Mobilia's father, Dave Holbrook, was one of the first children in the Upper Valley to take ski lessons from the late Ford Sayre, for whom the nonprofit Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council is named. Holbrook is shown here jumping at around age 8 circa 1939.

  • Pam Mobilia, the office manager at Dick's House in Hanover, has participated in the Ford Sayre Ski Council since she was a child. She now serves as executive secretary and vice chair on the board of trustees.

    Pam Mobilia, the office manager at Dick's House in Hanover, has participated in the Ford Sayre Ski Council since she was a child. She now serves as executive secretary and vice chair on the board of trustees.

  • Pam Mobilia's father, Dave Holbrook, was one of the first children in the Upper Valley to take ski lessons from the late Ford Sayre, for whom the nonprofit Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council is named. Holbrook is shown here jumping at around age 8 circa 1939.
  • Pam Mobilia, the office manager at Dick's House in Hanover, has participated in the Ford Sayre Ski Council since she was a child. She now serves as executive secretary and vice chair on the board of trustees.

Norwich — Pam Mobilia has a family connection with the Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council.

In the mid-1930s, when Dartmouth College graduate Ford Sayre set up a ski school for rural children, Mobilia’s father, Dave Holbrook, was one of the first kids to join Sayre on the slopes. Later on, both of Mobilia’s parents were administrators for the recreation program and Mobilia herself, then a seasoned sixth-grader, taught younger kids how to ski.

Ten years ago, when Mobilia’s own children, twins Jay and Allison, were coming up through the ranks of the program, Mobilia found herself volunteering again — on the slopes, in committees, wherever help was needed.

Today, at age 49, the Norwich resident is the office manager for Dick’s House in Hanover, and serves the nonprofit organization as vice chair and executive secretary on the board of trustees.

“I have been a lifelong Ford Sayre participant,” Mobilia said. “As far as I know, we are the only third-generation family of Ford Sayre skiers in the area. It’s why I’m so passionate about the program. ”

An enthusiastic skier who vows to keep skiing “until her bones can no longer take it,” Mobilia said the Ford Sayre program remains robust, still offering low-cost ski programs to hundreds of children at Dartmouth Skiway in Lyme Center and at Whaleback Mountain in Enfield.

But like many nonprofits that depend on volunteers to keep their programs running, the Ford Sayre Council’s main concern, Mobilia said, is the dwindling ranks of its traditional volunteer pool.

“We have always relied on our parent core. They do everything from standing on the sidelines looking for someone freezing or crying to giving lessons,” Mobilia said. “(But) the trend we’re seeing is that with two parents working, not enough parents are able to leave their jobs in the afternoon to support (the program.)”

The time commitment can be small and still make a big impact, especially in controlling costs.

“Other programs are much more expensive,” Mobilia said. A ski academy at Mount Washington Valley or Burke Mountain Academy, for example, can run more than $25,000 for the winter. Thanks to the work of volunteers, Mobilia said, an equivalent ski academy at Ford Sayre costs $6,500.

“Volunteers can do as little as come twice during a season to take photographs or serve hot chocolate on a big mountain day,” Mobilia said. “If everyone chips in just a little bit, we can keep the programs running smoothly.”

Editor’s Note: Additional information about the Ford K. Sayre Memorial Ski Council can be found at www.fordsayre.org. Diane Taylor can be reached at 603-737-3221 or dtaylor@vnews.com.

Do you know an Upper Valley volunteer whose efforts deserve to be recognized in a Volunteer Spotlight story? Send suggestions by email to Volunteers@vnews.com, or by mail to Volunteer Spotlight, Valley News, P.O. Box 877, White River Junction, Vt. 05001. Be sure to include your name and a daytime telephone number. For more information, call 603-727-3221 during regular business hours.