Feature Stories, Newspaper Writing, Sample Work

Celebrating Neighbors: A Caring Group of Fire Fighters

celebratePublished in the 9/16/09 issue of the Suburban Journals
Part of the “Celebrate Your Neighbor” Award Series

A Caring Group of Fire Fighters

 They volunteer to risk their lives to save others. They spring out of bed in the middle of the night to fight fires. They host fundraisers and assist the neighboring areas of Columbia. The selfless acts of the Columbia Volunteer Fire Department are what prompted Gloria Jahr to nominate the entire team of fire fighters for the Suburban Journals Celebrate Your Neighbor Award.

“They put their lives on the line for their neighbors,” Jahr said in her letter of nomination. “I have been impressed with everything they have done for my family but also with everything they do for everyone’s family in Columbia.”

Jahr knows firsthand how a helping hand from the department can make a difference. Her husband, Craig Jahr, 49, was a member of the department for more than 25 years before he began his battle with cancer two years ago.

Volunteers from the Fire Department raised money to help with medical bills, transport her husband to and from radiation, shoveled the driveway so that they could travel to and from treatments, and ultimately, helped her cope with her husband’s death.

He died three months ago.

In her letter of nomination, Gloria Jahr expressed gratitude for her extended family of more than 40 volunteer firefighters. “They have a brotherhood and friendship that is unbelievable. The Columbia Volunteer Fire Department helped my family in every way.”

Fire Chief Mike Roediger said that the assistance provided to the Jahrs is all a part of the job. “Craig was an integral part of the department – he could put a smile on anyone’s face, but we try and help anyone that is out there.”

Primarily, Roediger said that the department tries to maintain the standards that were established more than 100 years ago by “those before us.”

“They’ve given us a great heritage and we want to keep on the tradition,” Roediger said.

This tradition of dedicated service to the community led Gloria Jahr to submit the nomination.

“They put their lives on the line for everyone in this town,” Jahr said. “I think that they are the best neighbors I could ever have.”

– Shannon Philpott


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