Can you believe it? December has arrived and the new year is just around the corner! We’ve reached that proverbial point in time when we reflect back and set new goals for the future. By this time, most of us are fully engaged in the holiday season and have made valiant attempts to show love, care and respect to not only our loved ones but hopefully to neighbors, acquaintances and strangers, too. It’s no coincidence that Caring is December’s PACE character strength, ‘tis the season!
Whether we want to admit it or not, being cared for is a necessity and a basis for our existence. We rely on our employers to hold up their responsibility by caring enough to pay us for the work we do. Our kids rely on us for food, shelter and affection. Sometimes, when tragedy hits, regardless of its nature, we rely on first responders, hospital staff, insurance companies, etc. to care enough to make sure we’re able to keep on keepin’ on- so to speak. Although most of us plan for emergencies, sometimes we need care at a different level. Sometimes a fire devastates a household where there was no insurance coverage and all the family has is the clothes on their backs. Sometimes a cancer diagnosis for someone who is underinsured has financially wiped them out and they are facing the all-too-common decision of paying bills or putting food on the table.
Caring impacts each of us on a daily basis. As a firefighter, I see people who are in vulnerable situations. Firefighters also hear about the financial struggles within our community as a whole. It is this need that prompted us to create a special charity specifically geared to helping members in our community who are experiencing financial tragedies and struggles. Established in 1999, the Spokane Valley Firefighters’ Benevolent Association (SVFFBA) helps bridge the gap and meet the growing financial assistance needs within our own community, due to extenuating circumstances.
Our governing board is comprised of off-duty Spokane Valley firefighters as well as citizens from various walks of life who, together, donate their time and energy to evaluating and processing assistance requests. All requests are vetted and discussed, with the most urgent addressed first. These volunteers are the backbone of the SVFFBA’s not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) charitable organization and carry out the mission on a daily basis.
We’ve been able to help a wide variety of our community members who have suffered losses due to fire, vehicle accidents and terminal illnesses. We’ve also had the opportunity to assist with sending kids to special camps related to their particular condition and situation.
We are all members of the greater Spokane Valley community. Hopefully, we are each able to offer a little extra of ourselves this holiday season as a way to show people they’re cared for. The specific definition varies slightly from person to person and is adaptive to every situation, but the feeling of Caring has the power to leave you speechless. The choices we make on a daily basis demonstrate not only how we care for those around us, but how we care for ourselves.
On behalf of the Benevolent Association, we challenge you to be a standout and stand up for those who are in need of Caring. Tell your friends, family and co-workers that what they’re doing is appreciated and that you care about them. Try doing something nice for a stranger- even if it’s as simple as holding the door or saying thank you! Making an impact starts with each and every one of us. Let’s finish 2017 off strong and set ourselves up for an even better New Year. For those without the time to volunteer but are able to help out financially, the SVFFBA would be grateful for the opportunity to help others with your support!
Tragedies happen every day and test our strength and resilience; but great things happen when communities come together, caring for one another.
Jared Bradford has been a Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) firefighter since 2015. He is an active, passionate member of the SVFFBA Board of Directors. The organization is funded through payroll deduction from SVFD administration and line personnel, as well as community donations.