I've been a volunteer firefighter for two years now — I started when I was 19, because I wanted to give back to the community that helped shape me into the man I am today.
To be a volunteer firefighter, you simply have to be selfless. We get called out any time of day or night, and we miss out on family events and special occasions from holidays to birthdays. You have to be strong-hearted, too, because we see some things that others can't even imagine. It's not a job for everyone, and I'm proud to be in a position where I can give back.
I'm also fortunate to work for a company — The Carpenter Agency — that supports community service wholeheartedly. The company donates to our local schools and other causes, and all employees are encouraged to give back in some way. When I'm gone on a call or in training for the fire department, someone is always there to cover for me at work, and the agency provides me paid time off for my service. They really help make it possible for me to volunteer, and they do the same for others as well: Several people at The Carpenter Agency support nonprofit organizations here in Stroud and beyond.
There are bigger benefits to volunteering, too. When people see others doing something good for the community, it drives more involvement. And the citizens of Stroud are great at coming together to help one another.
I like to tell people that building a stronger community doesn't always have to start with something big — just start small and do what you can. When you take that approach, you can always find time to help, which means you are making a difference!
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