Letter: How our community comes together in an emergency
Whether it be a lost child, a house explosion, wildland or forest fire, the Salvation Army is here to provide resources and assist in finding workable solutions for those affected both immediately and for the long term. The Salvation Army can help to ensure those in need receive what they can, whenever they can. And team members do it really well.
For the past four years or so, I have been on call to assist the Salvation Army when people need to be fed during the types of emergencies mentioned above. They have a great food truck (albeit some upgrades are needed), and when the name of Dan Smith or John Reichert appears on my screen, I get ready to jump into action, if my life and schedule allow, and join the team’s next effort.
We have this figured out and for a couple of days or so. And we do incredibly well feeding many hungry people when these emergencies arise.
Yet, we have our limits, which became apparent to me with the Sylvan Fire as the numbers of fire responding personnel continued to grow. Our goal is to keep the responders fed until the Type 1 team, along with an industrial mobile kitchen, arrives. This fire, we were hearing concerns that it might be longer than five days due to demand and supply of the movable beasts. This has happened before.
A quick recap of what happened and many thanks to those who supplemented our efforts:
First, the incredible crew at Eagle Subway. Anna was contacted at 10 a.m. Monday, June 21, to see if the Subway might provide 150 sandwiches for pickup by 4:30 p.m. that day and she said they could get it done. And they did. These full meals (with two cookies each) would be transported to the Incident Command location at Sylvan Lake so that firefighters could pick them up the following morning when they were getting breakfast and heading out for the day.
Since Subway did such a great job the first day, and we had yet to have a volunteer group lined up, we called them the next day for 110 more sandwiches and they did it again with grace, smiles, and heartfelt love for those they were serving.
Then the good people of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration graciously offered sandwiches for Thursday. And they provided!
Frost Creek showed up with another 300 bagged lunches for Friday. That was great!
Moe’s Original Bar B Que was on track to supply beans for Thursday night, but since we were called down, they said they will gladly be ready the next time.
As we are now serving over 200, breakfasts and dinners got tricky. Then Anne Redden with The Community Market came into our lives. Anne and her crew prepared rice to have with our chimichangas one night as well as tamales, and eggs for three mornings. The Community Market also provided scrumptious fresh fruit, snacks, individual snack packs of carrots, celery and peanut butter, and granola bars galore (thank you, Vail Resorts). The Community Market committed to us that they were on track to help in any way possible on this fire in future emergencies when they come. And they absolutely did!
My goal is to inform you of what goes on and what gets done when emergencies arise. And, to introduce you to some of the players who respond time and time and time again. I learned on this fire that we are one of few, if not the only communities anywhere, that commits to trying to provide firefighters with breakfast/lunch/dinner until the feds arrive. Otherwise, these dedicated, hardworking, fearless, confident men and women who come here to fight our fires would have lived on rations the first five days.
So community, let’s figure out a bigger, better plan for the next time our services are needed. Emergencies will come and we should be prepared. If we have two calls at once, how can we respond?
Please put your thoughts in order and contact Tsu Woolen-Brown at Salvation Army, Anne Redden at The Community Market, or Melina Valsecia, executive director of the Eagle Valley Community Foundation. Together we are stronger and better … always. And to all the volunteers who covered shifts during this event and those who helped secure us power, water and trash, thank you for making it happen. You were asked to step up, and you certainly did!
With a heart full of gratitude for all the goodwill.