Peter deBakker


Describe your volunteer activities at HCT: The only HCT project in which I am directly involved is the counting of herring; it’s a seasonal activity. However, I am also involved in other Town-related activities that connect me with the HCT in other ways. I admire their position and activities regarding the preservation of the environment, and support their point of view.

How long have you volunteered?  I have been counting herring for several years. Living next to the herring run it’s easy for me to walk over there and do the counting for the time slots for which my wife and I signed up, and do some pinch hitting when another counter cannot do the counting for one reason or another.

What do you like most about it, memorable moments?   Being part of a dedicated team that does make a difference is important to me. With the alewife population in decline, and the herring running close to my house, I feel I’m doing something worthwhile that benefits not only me, but also the Cape Cod ecology in general.

Additionally, seeing the herring actually run the ladder, and enjoying the scenery in the process is very rewarding.

What’s special about Harwich?   While gainfully employed, my wife and I had a condo in Brewster for 17 years. With retirement in sight we started to look for a place to live full-time. It could have been anywhere in this part of the Cape, but in the end we found a beautiful lot on Hinckleys Pond, and had a house built. Great move! We have made great friends here, and could not be happier. The volunteer work I have been doing has exposed me to so many top of the line people. It’s an extraordinarily well-run Town with true professionals, and a dedicated group of volunteers.

What else do you like to do for fun or other activities or volunteering? In addition to counting herring in the spring I also do volunteer work for the Town of Harwich. I am part of a team that monitors the water quality of Hinckleys Pond. When volunteers were sought for the Harwich Planning Board I threw my hat in the ring, and was appointed to that board by the Board of Selectmen. One thing led to another, and in due time I was the liaison with the East Harwich Collaborative. Separately I was asked to join the Water Quality Task Force and became its chairman about a year ago. That position is a very rewarding one where, working with a fabulous group of people, we recently got approval from the Board of Selectmen to submit Harwich’s Draft Comprehensive Waste Management Proposal to the regulatory agencies. A few years ago I joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary, an organization I always highly admired.

If all this seems to have a common theme it may be the fact that I was born and raised in The Netherlands, a country where they try to keep their head above water, and where people both enjoy their water resources, but also make an extraordinary effort to preserve its quality.