WEST CHESTER, PA — Fund raising isn’t what it was, pre-pandemic, and emergency response agencies are caught in the pinch this year. Carnivals, pig roasts and raffles are community events that have had to be revamped.
Phoenixville Fire Department created a new fundraising event this year that is more pandemic friendly, a golf outing on Sept. 3.
“The idea for this outing was proposed by one of our part-time firefighters, Anthony Franz,” a department spokesperson said. “While this is the first golf outing we have hosted, Anthony has managed golf outings for other emergency service organizations over the years. We are heading into this fundraiser with Anthony’s past experience.”
Once announced, foursome spots filled up fast, and registration has been closed for weeks now.
“We are grateful for the response from our community,” Phoenixville Fire Department said. The event saw sponsorship from local business, at different levels: Klotzbach Funeral Home, Quadratec, and Phoenixville Hospital – Tower Health were Platinum sponsors,A.C. Miller Concrete Products is a Gold Sponsor, and Moyer Pest Control a Silver sponsor.
Royersford Fire Department is looking at Fire Prevention season “creeping up.” An important time for connecting with the community and getting support, the department knows this season is going to be different.
Every fall RFD holds an Emergency Services Night which they say “brings a whole bunch of agencies together for the community to engage with and see some of the equipment.” A Plan B is not yet in fully in place.
Berwyn Fire Company said its primary fundraiser is the Annual Turkey Raffle and Silent Auction. This year the company event is going virtual for the first time.
“We will still be selling turkey tickets to win a turkey, we will still be offering to have families or businesses sponsor a turkey, and our silent auction will be virtual and online this year instead of at the firehouse,” said Sara Gladney, Fundraising Committee Chair for Berwyn Fire Company.
The silent auction is made possible by donations, gift cards and baskets from local businesses and with businesses hit hard from the pandemic, we aren’t exactly sure what to expect to receive.
“We heavily rely on the money generated from our Annual Turkey Raffle and other additional fundraisers we put on during the calendar year to help offset our operating budget and staffing expenses,” Gladney explained.
“As the fundraising committee chair, it is something that I take a LOT of pride in to make sure we are continuing to evolve our fundraising efforts to meet our donors where they are.”
It’s been a disappointing time for firefighters and emergency responders. They were categorically left out of hazard pay grants distributed from CARES Act money, and some legislators are still working on finding special compensation for them. But they continue doing their risky jobs, and keeping their departments funded.
Chester County EMS Council President Gary Vinnecombe said it’s been a challenging time for emergency responders of all kinds.
“Were kind of just preparing for the next round, now that PPE is more available we’re stocking up,” Vinnecombe said. He said the early months of the pandemic were hard, and the Covid-enhanced challenges of emergency response continue.
“My wife is a police officer, I’m an EMT and one of us was at work every day; we never caught a break. We have kids 7 and 4 at home. It’s a challenge. I can’t explain to my patient, ‘I’m tired because I was teaching second grade,'” he said.
Add to that the knowledge that you may bring home the coronovirus because you work with public, and you have another layer of difficulty, he said.
He said that he knew many EMS workers are disappointed that hazard pay didn’t come through for them, but, he added, “They’re going to do their jobs. They’re always going to show up for work.”
And Vinnecombe is hopeful. “There are still a lot of funding opportunities,” he said. He said there are state grants available now.
Gerald R. DiNunzio, Jr., President Chester County Fire Chief’s Association, said the association has applied for grants, but the money it receives goes to train the firefighters.
“We also hold an annual golf outing but that was canceled that this year. We have no fund raising plans in place of the golf outing,” DiNunzio said. “Our most recent grant is a recruitment and retention grant, where we use the money to solicit volunteers for the fire companies.”
This article originally appeared on the West Chester Patch