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SATURDAY SALUTE: Firefighters give back on and off duty

SATURDAY SALUTE: Firefighters give back on and off duty

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A hearty Saturday Salute goes this week to International Association of Fire Fighters Local 647, the Grand Island firefighters union, which is forming a new charitable foundation.

The Grand Island Professional Firefighters Charitable Foundation aims to support local efforts and help the community.

The nonprofit has been registered and will launch this year.

The local union already supports national efforts, such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Grand Island agencies, such as the Grace Foundation and efforts such as Operation Warm, which provides winter coats to elementary school students.

“This foundation will allow us to expand that reach to help the community of Grand Island in some different ways we’ve not been able to in the past,” said Jared Stockwell, the IAFF Local 647 communications director.

The new foundation also will help support local firefighters who are struggling with addiction or mental illness, and provide for educational services.

It will raise funds through donations, estate legacies and fundraisers.

Stockwell expects the foundation to start its efforts in the next few months.

“It’s a charity foundation that we are hoping to become a 501(c)(3) down the road,” he said. “We’re not quite there yet. We’re in the beginning stages of it.”

Our firefighters risk their lives every day as they are trained to go into dangerous situations to rescue the people of our community and prevent situations such as fires from becoming worse and endangering more people. They care about their community and are willing to work even when they’re off duty to help the less fortunate.

This is just another example of how dedicated they are.

Long-term care residents cared for

We also salute our community’s long-term care facilities and their staffs for everything they are doing, day in and day out, to care for people in need of daily medical care during the coronavirus pandemic.

The residents of these facilities have been unable to spend time with their families — outside of phone or Zoom calls — for about 10 months now. This is an especially terrible situation for these elderly and infirmed people, many of whom are struggling to maintain their mental and physical abilities. Socialization is a big part of that process.

But the staff members of these facilities are dedicated to providing as much socialization as they can until the residents are once again able to have visitors and even leave the facilities for outings.

At Primrose Retirement Community in Grand Island, for example, each Primrose staffer has been assigned a number of residents to make sure they go out for a walk and get socialization every day.

In early December, the state began to allow family members to be assigned the role of essential caregiver, helping residents carry out some tasks, so some family interaction is once again possible.

But as we all have been yearning to be able to get back to “normal,” whatever that will be once the COVID-19 risk lessens, the residents at our long-term care facilities continue to hope for it all just to be over.

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