First responders honored for their service
Published 9:04 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2023
1 of 12
Joining for a group photo at the Jan. 19 First Responder Dinner are the guests of honor from rescue squads, fire departments and law enforcement agencies in Southampton County and Franklin and the volunteers from the Rotary Club of Franklin, Virginia, and the Charles R. Younts American Legion Post No. 73 who made the dinner possible. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
Laying out the steaks to be grilled at the First Responder Dinner are, in the foreground, Brent Edwards, left, and Randolph Cook. Working in the background are Howard Vinson, left, and David Scott. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
The American Legion Post No. 73 Hall is populated by Franklin-Southampton first responders and the volunteers serving them Jan. 19 during the First Responder Dinner put on by the Post and the Rotary Club of Franklin, Virginia. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
From left, Charles Qualls, Debbie Darden, in the background, and Susan Blair pack to-go meals for Franklin-Southampton first responders during the First Responder Dinner on Jan. 19. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
Hunterdale Volunteer Fire Department Chief David Blythe, in front, and Southampton County Deputy Alfred Hill, center, help lead a line of first responders at the Jan. 19 dinner honoring their service to the Franklin-Southampton community. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
Wayne Blythe, left, is pictured here with Vince Holt as he makes coffee at the First Responder Dinner on Jan. 19 in Franklin. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
From left, Kathleen Bader serves up a baked potato to Hunterdale Volunteer Firefighter Brett Edwards, who is followed by his son, volunteer firefighter Ryan Edwards, and Southampton County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Camden Cobb. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
Filling their plates while in line for the First Responder Dinner on Jan. 19 at the American Legion Post No. 73 Hall are, front to back, Detective Benjamin Grizzard, Deputy Jamal Hurt, Deputy Charles Idlet and Deputy Christopher Burnsworth, with a long row of people coming up behind them. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
Louise Tomilson, left, serves volunteer first responder Chris Tistera during the First Responder Dinner on Jan. 19 at the American Legion Post No. 73 Hall. Seen serving in the background is Sandra Vinson. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
Franklin Police Chief Steve Patterson spends the night cooking steaks for the First Responder Dinner. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
Standing by Franklin Police Chief Steve Patterson’s grill is his brother, J.C. Patterson, who is a deputy with the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office and a retired lieutenant with the Suffolk Police Department. The Patterson brothers volunteered to cook the steaks for the First Responder Dinner in Franklin on Jan. 19. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
Pat Newman smiles as he carries a load of to-go meals for first responders Jan. 19. (Photo submitted by Bill Billings)
Lives are saved and injuries and disasters are mitigated or averted due to the service of area first responders. Those serving the Franklin-Southampton area recently experienced the gratitude of that community through a First Responder Dinner.
The dinner has become an annual event put on by the Rotary Club of Franklin, Virginia, the Charles R. Younts American Legion Post No. 73 and that Post’s Ladies Auxiliary.
The event took place this year on Jan. 19 at the American Legion Post No. 73 Hall on Armory Drive, and it served approximately 230 first responders.
Rotarian Treasurer Lauren Harper, who helped organize the dinner, said those invited to it included members of every rescue squad, fire department and law enforcement agency in Franklin and Southampton County.
The tally of 230 meals served included those available for pick-up and those available for first responders to eat in person at the American Legion Hall.
“The last two years we did (the dinner) as totally pick-up, and people didn’t eat in,” Harper said. “But this year we gave folks the option of either picking up and taking their meals back to their squad house or eating in with us. So some, this year, opted to eat in again, but with the COVID scare, in the last couple years, many have just taken it back to their squad houses.”
The meal consisted of a sizable steak, a salad with dressing, a large baked potato and a dessert.
In addition to the work of about 20 volunteers from the Rotary Club and American Legion, the dinner was made possible by area businesses.
“We just asked businesses in our community, some of which deal with first responders on a daily basis, to please support (the dinner), and they were very kind and generous in doing so, and we’re very lucky that everybody wants to support an event like that,” Harper said. “And I think the folks that were there really did enjoy it.”
Sponsoring the dinner were the American Legion Post No. 73 and its Ladies Auxiliary; the Rotary Club of Franklin, Virginia; Bank of Southside Virginia; Bronco Federal Credit Union; Barnes, Brock, Cornwell & Painter PLC; Burgess & Co. PLC; Franklin Baptist Church; Kaufman & Canoles P.C.; Randall, Page and Bruch P.C.; Railey & Railey P.C.; Serve Restaurant & Taphouse; Bon Secours Southampton Medical Center; Summit Design and Engineering Services; and The Village at Woods Edge.
“All those folks contribute either money or food in one way or another,” Harper said.
Summing up the purpose of the dinner, Harper said it is held “truly to say ‘thank you’ to all those who are first responders in our community and let them know how much they are appreciated.”