Photo provided by Denise Denecke
The Denecke Family
Clockwise from top is Lillian, Dan, Denise and Sylvia Denecke.
You might know Denise Denecke from her work fostering dogs, or maybe from her role as a teacher’s aide at Wales Primary School. You might recognize her as a volunteer at the Wales Center Volunteer Fire Company, as the mother of her two girls, Lillian and Sylvia, or maybe just as a member of the Marilla community. However, Denise most strongly identifies with one particular role: that of a woman living her life after the example set in the Gospels.
My faith is the reason I do what I do, because to live the way we’re being taught to live in our faith is to live to serve others in their time of need, whether it be creature or people, she said in a recent interview in her home, a fluffy white foster puppy snuggled on her lap. You need to be of service to those around you and be a voice for those who can’t speak.
Denise is reticent when asked about herself, emphasizing her family’s involvement and calling her activities just another way of helping others.
I just believe that we’re all called to be of service to others … everyone can do something, and I think, as individuals, we’re all called to do that, because each person has unique gifts and talents that they can give toward whatever they feel passionate about and do things to make the world a better place, she said.
Though she’s been fostering dogs for several years, Denise has only been with the fire department since January. She said she began volunteering after a friend who had been a member died of cancer. The friend would tell her stories and have the scanner crackling away in the background during visits.
When she passed away, I thought 'You know, I’d like to do that,'” Denise recalled. She said she still has much to learn but has been out on a variety of calls and also participated in different training drills.
I’m trying a little bit of everything, seeing which way I want to gear my training toward, she said.
She and her husband, Dan, have been living in Marilla for 16 years and have been members of Immaculate Conception Church in East Aurora for about 15 years. Lillian will be a freshman at Iroquois High School this fall, and Sylvia will be a seventh grader at the middle school. The Cheektowaga native said Marilla is a family-centered community that helps her family live out our ideals.
Denise said everything she is involved with is a family commitment. For example, if she has to go out to a call, someone has to take care of the foster dogs, which are frequently rescues from puppy mills that need a lot of special attention.
It can’t be just about one person—it’s something that we all do together she said. Family is faith-based, and we learn and grow from each other.
And they do their own things, too, she added with a laugh. It’s just the way we roll.