A well-spent $8

Published 10:15 pm Saturday, October 3, 2009

It has often been said that there is no bigger heart than that of a volunteer.

Without volunteers, important responsive and caring agencies such as the Salvation Army and our military would be greatly diminished.

The same also could be said about the health and well being of many communities in our country.

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Saturday I had the opportunity to make a quick visit to the Whaleyville Volunteer Fire Department. The trip was both business and pleasure as I was assigned to cover the department’s biannual fish fry fundraiser.

The business side came in my responsibilities to cover the event for the Tuesday edition of the Suffolk News-Herald; the pleasure side came from eating a wonderful plate of fried fish, hushpuppies, cole slaw and potatoes.

During my visit, I was reminded that volunteer units such as Whaleyville are often the community centers of small towns and areas, such as the one I grew up in Marlow, Ala.

Marlow is nothing more than a 4-way stop in central Baldwin County, but during heavy rains, floods, hurricanes and fires, this department provided quick and dependable emergency service to those of us living along Fish River.

The members of that department had other jobs, but aside from their family and their faith, they had no bigger calling.

And in every community I have lived, that has always been the case.

Now living in Suffolk, I am comforted in knowing there are well-trained fire and EMS officials with the Suffolk department, and knowing volunteer departments in Whaleyville, Chuckatuck, Driver, Crittenden and other areas are also there is an added bonus.

For the men and women who volunteer in these area departments – and for those who take it on as a profession – their instincts to go into a burning home at the risk of their own lives is something all to rare in our society.

They do so without call for fame or riches, but for the chance to serve their community and protect their neighbors. For that they – both paid and volunteer – should be commended.

Saturday’s fish fry was an effort by the department to raise needed funds to help augment its force with new equipment and pay for upgrades to current equipment, while reducing the burden on Suffolk taxpayers.

The $8 plate was well worth the investment, and the time spent visiting Chief Chuck Brothers and his team was time well spent.