150924nei brannick

Independent Spirit Award winner David Brannick will be honored with five other honorees at a banquet tonight at the Quonset ‘O’ Club in North Kingstown.

Westerly resident David Brannick doesn’t really like talking about his work for the past three years with Southern Rhode Island Volunteers. After all, he doesn’t consider it work – he considers it part of his morality, part of what he needs to do to give back properly.

“It’s faith-based as much as anything,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing to do, and I’m very blessed in what I do. The way I was brought up, it’s what you have to do. I think it helps me to be better than if I was left to my own devices.”

While Brannick is modest about his contributions, Debra Tanner – the executive director of SRIV since 2000 and the person who nominated him for a 2015 Independent Spirit Award – said he is a shining example of the type of volunteer who has gone above and beyond for the organization.

“David Brannick is probably the most humble person I’ve ever met,” she said. “He’s absolutely served humanity from the heart. He really doesn’t want any accolades for it, and for him, it’s what a human being is supposed to do.”

This year’s Independent Spirit Award honorees are Tom Fortier and Kathie Kelleher of Narragansett, who volunteer with Friends of Canonchet Farm; Hilly Munson of Snug Harbor, a longtime member of the Union Fire District; Nancy Armstrong of North Kingstown, who works with Girl Scouts of Rhode Island, LINKS and other organizations; and Harriett Powell of North Kingstown, who works with the North Kingstown Groundwater Committee. The group will be honored at a banquet tonight at the Quonset ‘O’ Club in North Kingstown.

During an interview, Brannick emphasized that the spotlight needed to be on SRIV.

“I’d like to stress them more than me, because they do a great job working with people who need help,” he said. “In a small way, I like to feel that I’m helping, and I hope that someday down the road somebody will help me in that way, too.”

SRIV’s main office is in Charlestown, but the organization has another office in South Kingstown and services communities from Westerly to North Kingstown, including Jamestown. The organization provides rides to medical appointments and other needed services for people in need, and also is a Meals on Wheels provider.

Brannick said he typically volunteers for the transportation duties, as well as meal deliveries.

“I especially enjoy working with older people, because I’ve been through this with my parents, and I know I’m going to be old myself someday,” he said, laughing. “All of these things are not that big of a deal, but they’re things I can do and they help people in need.”

Tanner said that during her 15 years with the organization, Brannick went above and beyond as a volunteer.

“We had this elderly couple we were helping out, and they had become very important to all of us in the office,” she said. “Their family had kind of shunned them, and there wasn’t anybody offering them support. Their personalities were difficult at times, but Dave stepped up to help them.”

The husband passed away in the past year, which added to the stress level. However, Tanner said that Brannick was a stable presence during a turbulent time.

“It was truly traumatic and emotional for [the] wife, and [Brannick] was right there to make sure she had what she needed,” Tanner said. “He was in constant communication with us to tell us what was happening ... They were really important to us, because they signified how our isolated seniors live in this county. Dave didn’t forget us because he knew we were all going to be saddened by that man’s death. I’ve never in 15 years had a volunteer be like that, knowing that we were grieving too.”

Tanner said that she is proud of all of the work her volunteers do, but she nominated Brannick because she saw his actions as so substantial.

“That man was right there, and that was really a step above,” she said. “They all do wonderful things throughout the year, but every once in a while there is an opportunity to support them a step above. It is extremely humble to me to work with these people. They’re the quiet, everyday heroes that not everybody notices. If you don’t have a volunteer resource to do it, then you have to pay to have someone do it.”

Brannick moved to Westerly about three years ago from Manchester, Connecticut, after retiring from a 38-year career in contract administration work for the U.S. Department of Defense. He started working with SRIV shortly after the move in October 2012. His wife of 44 years, Patricia, works in software development and orientation for the insurance industry.

“I grew up coming here and body surfing, and I just love being in the water and near the water,” he said, adding that he will sneak off to the beach as often as he can.

“My wife is still working, she works at home, so I sometimes feel guilty about it,” he said, laughing.

The pair attend weekly services at St. Clare Church in Westerly. They have a son, Sean, a daughter-in-law, Maritza, and a daughter, Libby, who is engaged to Ted Daly. The Brannicks have four grandchildren.

Tanner encouraged anyone interested in volunteering with SRIV to contact the organization by phone at 552-7661, email or in person. The main office is located at the Charlestown Senior/Community Center in Ninigret Park, 100 Park Lane, Charlestown.

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