Felix Neck is grateful for all the volunteers that help out at the wildlife sanctuary. For this Volunteer Spotlight, we spoke with Jean-Marc Dupon about his experiences at the sanctuary.
Some volunteers come for a walk, fall in love with the property, and then want to help out. Others find us online because our mission matches their interest in education, conservation and advocacy. But for one volunteer, it wasn’t any of these—he simply didn’t quite know what he was getting himself into 12 years ago when he started dating Sanctuary Director Suzan Bellincampi (now his wife).
We sat down with Jean-Marc Dupon—chef by trade, motorcycle enthusiast, and general jack of all trades—to learn about his experience at Felix Neck over the years.
Jean-Marc started volunteering because of his relationship with Suzan and instantly fell in love with the Sanctuary and the many ways he was able to help out. It literally became his back yard when he moved to the staff house and became the property caretaker, so his appreciation grew even deeper. “I wanted to help in any way I could,” he added, “It’s in my blood now.”
He and Suzan have since moved off-site, but Jean-Marc keeps coming back to help out with festivals, parade floats, field maintenance, building repairs, plowing, mowing, and more. He has even assisted with kayak tours, gift shop sales, and visitor services over the years. While he can’t exactly remember his first project as a volunteer, he does know that he “jumped in with two feet and hasn’t looked back.”
We reminisced about a few moments that stuck out for him here at Felix Neck, a favorite being the Edgartown Fourth of July parade and the float that we enter with our Fern and Feather Day campers. “It’s intense!” he laughs. Every year he drives the tractor with the float in tow to the Edgartown School in preparation for the parade. He jokes about the small stresses to make sure the float is secure and to stay alert for excited parade goers that get a little too close for comfort, but enjoys being a part of the creativity and excitement that go along with the task.
He also looks back fondly on Fall Festival, our annual seasonal celebration the day after Thanksgiving. “The amount of people needed and work that goes into this event is really incredible!” He has probably assisted with 11 Festivals to date and sees plenty more in his future.
Jean-Marc notes that Felix Neck is one of those “pure beautiful places” that still feels like it did when he moved to the island in 1969. At the end of the day he “really enjoys being part of the Felix Neck community and helping people. It makes me happy.”