Ron May (in front) decided to organize a First Responder’s Appreciation Night after he and his wife needed assistance in the back country, but he also enlisted the help of his co-workers at Bill Howich Chrysler and his church, Christian Life Fellowship, to help out in saying thanks to those who put others first. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Bill Howich Chrysler and Christian Life Fellowship teaming up to say ‘thanks’ to our first responders

‘We just don’t say thank-you to these people enough, I don’t think’

Ron May’s sister, a 911 dispatcher in Ontario, has often told him about the stresses of her job and the jobs of those she works with in first response.

So he’s got a bit of familiarity with the emotions and struggles involved in being in emergency services.

Then one day, he and his wife actually needed their services themselves.

“Search and Rescue had to come out into the bush to pick me and my wife up after a quadding accident,” he says.

That was when he decided that a simple “thanks” wasn’t really enough.

In talking to his pastor, Blair Phibbs at Christian Life Fellowship Church, they came up with an idea.

Together with the rest of the staff at Bill Howich Chrysler – where he works as the assistant sales manager and fleet manager – they will be putting on a First Responder’s Appreciation Night at Christian Life Fellowship on May 16.

Phibbs also has some history with first responders, he says, and was more than happy to get involved when May approached him about putting on a dinner for these folks.

“I’ve been a chaplain for both police and fire services in the past, so I’m somewhat familiar with the things they have to deal with and what goes along with that,” he says. “And as part of what we do at the church, we look to find ways to do good things in the community and help people do better in life. People in police, fire, emergency services, search and rescue and those types of jobs, they have hard jobs sometimes and they see and deal with stuff that’s – well, it’s not stuff that most of us have to see – and they often carry that with them. Sometimes just saying thank you can help them. It’s a pretty simple thing we can do to encourage them.”

“We just don’t say thank-you to these people enough, I don’t think,” May agrees. “So this is something I thought would maybe do that. They make a real impact each and every day on people’s lives, and I don’t want them to lose that idea that they’re appreciated while they’re in the day-to-day grind of doing the job.”

While they’re not getting ahead of themselves and calling it the “first annual,” event, they’d be more than happy to make it a recurring thing to say thanks to those in our community who do this important work, should the opportunity present itself.

“We’ll take whatever opportunity we can to show these people that what they do in our community is appreciated,” May says. “I think it’s something we could all do a little more. If you see a police officer or someone who does this type of work out and about, take a minute to just go over and tell them you appreciate what they do.

“But we’re going to see how this one goes and go from there,” Phibbs says.

Anyone interested in getting involved on the night as a volunteer or who wants to donate to the cause is asked to contact or call 250-287-9555. They also ask that those planning on attending as guests – the night is open to any and all first responders and their families – RSVP to that email address or phone number, as well, “just so we aren’t caught off guard and plan for 50 and then have 150 show up,” May says.

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