I Am Sandy: Mike Veenendaal
Mike Veenendaal and his wife, Marilyn, moved to Historic Sandy in 1970 and have been Sandy residents ever since. They raised their three daughters and one son here in Sandy, who all graduated from Jordan High School. When they first moved to Sandy, it was only one square mile, so the Veenendaal family has seen a lot of change and growth since.
While living in Historic Sandy, Mike would hear the siren go off notifying the volunteer firefighters to report to the first fire station located at 8744 S Center Street (150 E), which is now the current Sandy Museum location. Although he had a good job for Zions Bank in Computer Operations, he was intrigued by the opportunity to volunteer for the Fire Department. He started volunteering in 1974, became a full-time firefighter in 1976 and moved up the ladder through the ranks as an Engineer, Captain, and Battalion Chief of Operations over a 33-year period until he retired in 2006.
Mike helped create many of the initial Fire Department programs and concepts, some of which are still used today. He helped with the transport engine program, which was utilized in Sandy for over 20 years. With the help of Alta View Hospital, they created the Hug-a-Bear Program, which provided children with a stuffed bear when Sandy Fire responded to an incident where a child was involved and the program continues today. He was part of the ambulance program, that helped them purchase the first ambulance in Sandy. Also, Mike helped establish the Critical Incident Debriefing Team, which is also still in effect today to assist first responders debrief after a critical incident. Mike’s motto was that an idea or concept may not be effective today, but it may be effective tomorrow. He was a forward thinker and enjoyed a challenge of trying something new. After retiring from Sandy Fire, Mike worked for Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) for 8 years.
Through the years, Mike has been involved in numerous community and volunteer programs. Not only has he been involved in his church, especially with the scouting program for over 45 years, he has also been a member of organizations, such as The Exchange Club and Sandy Pride for over a decade. Most recently, his passion has been animal rescue. For several years, he has volunteered at the Ching Farm Rescue & Sanctuary, as well as the Community Animal Welfare Society (CAWS), which is a foster-based rescue organization for cats and dogs. With the little free-time that he has, he is also the President of his HOA, as well as a lifetime member of the Utah State Firefighters Association.
Mike continues to make a difference in people’s lives and the Sandy community. He says with all that he has been involved within the community and with Sandy City Fire Department, it has always been a team effort and that he could not have done it alone, but there is no doubt that he has made a difference.