Support those who risk it all

Published 9:39 am Thursday, September 30, 2010

This summer my mom gave me a book about the history of the Sodus Point, NY Volunteer Fire Department which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

On one of the pages is a photograph of my grandfather, Abram “Pip” VanDerBroek III, in his firefighter’s uniform on his way to line up for a local parade.

My grandfather was a volunteer firefighter for 30 years. In addition to that, he worked at the Genesee Brewing Company to help support his wife and six children, one of them being my mom. Mom remembers how her father’s socks, shoes and pants were orderly laid out beside his bed in the event of a fire call in the middle of the night.

From a snow mobile accident that claimed the life of his daughter’s friend to the coal trestle, a landmark in the village, fire, my grandfather answered every call he could.

My family’s roots run deep with the Sodus Point Fire Department and they still do. For most of her life, my mom, her sister (Aunt Dolly) and my grandmother have been in the Ladies Auxiliary. Therefore, I used to get roped into helping out at events and fundraisers sponsored by the fire department, not that I minded, because I thought it was fun. Fire department fundraisers in Sodus Point brought many in the community out and they still do.

Most people living in communities served by volunteer fire departments understand how valuable these organizations are, including those in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

Car accidents, fires, floods—any emergency or catastrophic event—firefighters answer the call and place their lives on the line.

Being an emergency responder is a notable trade, but to do it voluntarily is another realm entirely. There are not many of us that would get up in the middle of the night and willingly spare their lives for others without monetary gain or recognition. That notion is now reflecting in many volunteer organizations across the nation, but in the end we still have those few willing to do it because they simply want to help.

And while volunteer firefighters fulfill their duty to the community, it is equally the duty of the community to support them in their endeavors, whether it is through fundraisers and/or a fire district tax. These funds go to purchase new gear to protect firefighters, equipment and trucks and the day to day operations of their station.

So the next time you see a meal fundraiser or a turkey shoot, do your part and join in. Show your support for those who risk it all for you.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.