A funny thing happened on the way to my local fire department’s awards and recognition dinner last Saturday… four firefighter buddies and I built a completely new entryway for a senior pal’s house. After that, we peeled off our dirty work clothes and…
…put on nice clothes, shined boots, and enjoyed great camaraderie for the awards dinner.
What boots did I wear? My new Chippewa Station Boots that my fire department buddies gave me–with a suit, even!
Now, here’s the full story….
I wrote a post for this blog right before Christmas that my local fire department decided to award me an honorary lifetime membership in recognition for community service I have been doing with them for almost two decades. The formal presentation of this honor was made this past Saturday evening.
But before we got there, I had a dilemma to solve. A senior pal lives by herself in the house where she (and her husband before he died) raised their four children. She has been reluctant to use the three concrete steps in the front of her house because the concrete was crumbling, and there was not a rail. She had been walking around to the back of her house and using the basement door instead.
Oh gosh, this was awful. For the past few weeks, I asked for donations, bought materials, and recruited labor. My buddies and I removed the old steps, built forms, mixed and poured new concrete — but this time, in the form of a gently sloping ramp. Then we built walls and a roof, forming a portico over the ramp.
Handrails were installed on both sides, making it easy for my friend to stabilize herself as she walked up or down the ramp. Placing a table (that I built in my shop) outside the door was the last step, so when my friend reaches her door with a bag of groceries, for example, she can place the bag on the table, then unlock her door and let herself into her house. The roof provides protection from rain and snow so she doesn’t have to worry about getting soaked while unlocking her door or stepping out to get the mail.
The story about solving this problem earlier that day was fodder for good-natured stories from the Chief and local & state elected officials who were there to give awards and shake hands of recipients. I was in great company, too — lifesavers, community heroes, and long-time service honors were also given.
I was also genuinely pleased that my spouse was there to watch the event, and while he pretty much hid in the background and didn’t mingle (as is his nature), he was very happy for me, too. He also smiled when a local elected official asked me later, “is he your ‘new’ husband?” My reply, “nothing new about him, but yes, he’s my spouse.” We all laughed… even The Spouse.
All-in-all, it was a good evening. I sincerely appreciate the men and women who serve in the Fire Service in our community and county, and enjoy working closely with them to improve safety for those more likely to suffer a fall or other life-safety problem. It is indeed my honor to be part of the community where I grew up and love.
Where are the photos? My camera was damaged and I didn’t know it until I got home and realized no photos were on it from those that I took during our construction project. One photo above was taken by a friend during the awards dinner (I cropped out recognizable figures with me). And YES! You CAN wear shined-up station boots with a suit!
Life is short: serve your community — you get back much more than you give.