Bringing help, bringing hope

First responders thanked for service to community

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Mary Rutan Hospital Emergency Department nurse Christine Longbrake gets a big hug from members of the Calvary Christian Church congregation during a surprise visit Tuesday morning to recognize the staff for First Responders Appreciation Week. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | REUBEN MEES)


Responding to a spike in overdose deaths, tending to the wounded at the scene of automobile crashes and other calamities and helping people who are oftentimes at their worst can seem like a thankless job a times.

But local community members — including individuals in recovery from mental health and substance abuse, social service professionals and church congregations — took an opportunity this week during Ohio’s First Responder Appreciation Week to thank those that serve in such jobs or volunteer posts.

They typically read a proclamation from Ohio Gov. John Kasich and rolled out banners with the “Bringing Help, Bringing Hope” slogan of the statewide campaign, which was organized at the state level by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. It was carried out locally by the Mental Health Drug and Addiction Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties and Community Coalition for Opiate Relief Efforts with financial assistance from the Mary Rutan Foundation.

While some groups organized events to support their local departments, like last Sunday’s special church service at the Huntsville United Methodist Church, others made random stops at local fire houses or other locations such as the Mary Rutan Hospital Emergency Department.

Members of the Calvary Baptist Church and Calvary Christian School converged on the hospital Tuesday morning and surprised the staff there with sweets and hugs.

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“This is the type of stuff that makes it worth it,” ER nurse Holly Miller told the group. “This is cool and very unexpected,” ER nurse Christine Longbrake said. “We feel loved and appreciated.”

“I thought there was something wrong when I saw all these people coming in here,” receptionist Kaley McDaniel said of the sudden arrival of the group.

“It was definitely a surprise,” nursing supervisor Adam Jurich added. “Words can’t express our thanks.”

It was also a blessing for the church group, youth pastor Donny Macaluso and CCS senior Daniel Wilt said.

“We saw this as an opportunity to serve the community and love on them the same way Jesus does,” Macaluso said. “You never know when you are going to need them so it’s good to keep them encouraged. When people do this day in and day out, the small gestures can go a long way toward encouraging them to get through the day or the week.”

“I think it’s awesome we get a chance to do this,” Wilt said. “I don’t think we take enough time to thank the people who are putting in time to try to solve the community’s problems.”

On Thursday evening, Goshen Friends Church Pastor Wayne Downing, his wife Susan and eight other congregation members surprised members of Zanesfield’s Tri-Valley Fire and EMS Department before their monthly EMS meeting.

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Pastor Wayne Downing and members of the Goshen Friends Church congregation stopped by the Tri-Valley Fire and EMS Department on Thursday evening where Chief Luann Davis read cards from children and volunteer Davi Stoltzfus gave the visitors a ride in the fire truck.


 Complete story and more photos in Saturday's Examiner

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