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Hoodland Fire's Support Group makes impact on community posted on 08/01/2019

When the Hood to Coast relay takes to Hwy. 26 on Friday, Aug. 23, approximately 12,600 runners and another 3,600 volunteers will pass through the Mountain community. To keep them safe, dozens of safety personnel, from the Oregon State Police to the Hoodland Fire District (HFD), will be on hand - and to keep those safety personnel going, the HFD’s Support Group will keep them fed, serving steaks, salads, fruit and more.

“Everybody has their own niche and their own thing they do,” said Gretchen McAbery, the group’s Team Leader, noting that members of the organization typically eschew recognition or attention. “We provide lunch for them, have a place to sit down, relax, revitalize during the event.”

The Support Group started in 2001 with the original goal to cook meals for the firefighters returning from long calls when they are cold or hot, tired and hungry, at times in the middle of the night. Their duties have since evolved into promoting socializing and team building in the department and all meal support, including special events such as training company graduation, the eclipse of 2017 and Hood to Coast (now for their third year).

“It is very fulfilling to be able to offer delicious meals to our first responders after all they do to protect and serve our community,” McAbery added. “Our reputation has expanded to now receiving calls from the Sheriff's department asking if we are available to provide meals during local search and rescue incidents.”

“While the ‘visible’ presence that the community sees of Hoodland Fire is the Firefighters – their efforts are matched by the behind the scenes work of community volunteers who take care of the needs of the district firefighting members day or night, in good weather and bad providing critical support on emergency scenes of hydration and food,” noted HFD Chief John Ingrao in an email to the Mountain Times. “They are the unsung heroes of the District and they directly impact the quality of life and protection of the community with their assistance.”

Membership to the support group is open to people who live or work in the district and are 18 or older (although teens age 14 and older can also join if they have a current member as a sponsor and are approved by the leader and the Fire Chief).

The group generally meets on the first Monday of every month at 6 p.m. at the main station, 69634 Hwy. 26 in Welches (applications for membership are available at the station).

By Garth Guibord/MT

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