By: Ryan Durling
When someone hears the word volunteer, what comes to mind is personal gain. The idea of volunteerism is thought to be whether it looks good for college applications or creates a facade of a higher-quality human. When you look at it from my perspective, you see a whole new side to the idea of doing something without gaining anything from it.
May of 2017 was the month in which I made a decision that I didn’t know would forever change my view of people and would allow me to realize the true meaning behind unconditional giving. At the end of May, I became a member of the Green Township Volunteer Fire Department. This became something I would come to realize as the greatest decision I’ve made in my life.
When I found out that I was of age to be able to join the fire department, I jumped on the opportunity and never looked back. The first thought that came to my mind when I got accepted into the department was not all the fun I was going to have, but the idea of giving back to those around me in a way that not many others could. Firefighters are pictured as the hero who saves someone from a burning building or rescues a cat that is stuck in a tree (the latter of which I have actually done), but most of the time firefighters do things as small as checking a house for dangerous gasses or cleaning a road up after a car accident to ensure the safety of other drivers on the road.
None of us get paid to do what we do, otherwise it wouldn't be called volunteering. Most of us will gladly drop what we are doing to go and help someone else. As per our policy, we do not technically have assigned duty nights where three or four members are “on call,” but we rely on our members to respond if they can. After knowing most of the men and women on my department for the six months I have been around them, I am confident that they would give you the shirt off their back even if they didn't know you. I can tell you from personal experience that I would drop whatever I'm doing at home to respond to a call no matter what time of day it was. For most people it's the idea and the rush that comes with every call that gives them their adrenaline, but for me, it's the thought of simply helping someone that makes it all worthwhile. After joining the volunteer fire department, I began to find myself doing things I would never have imagined before. For example, I was driving down a busy road one day and saw a woman running after her dog who got loose in her front yard. I slowed down, pulled over, and turned on my blue lights to push traffic to the other side of the road and to slow down cars that were headed my way. Once the woman had grabbed her dog and put it back inside, I went on with my day. It's little things like this that make you feel so much better inside. Knowing that something as little as helping someone protect their pet from traffic can not only make your own day better but make someone else's day great.
Our dedication to the community is unlike any other. The behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparation is unbelievable. From monthly drills to making sure the engines and tankers are 100% outfitted with the proper equipment, we make sure that if something happens, we are ready. We want to make sure that if you are ever in a situation where you need help, we will be ready and able to help you.
So next time you think of the word ‘volunteer,’ look at it from a new perspective. Don’t look at the personal gain from doing it. Think of the satisfaction you will get from helping someone or doing something that someone else can benefit from.