Tag Archives: fires

Gale Hershberger is the people’s people person

Gale Hershberger by Bruce Stambaugh

Gale Hershberger has been president of the Winesburg Vol. Fire Dept auxiliary for 25 years.

By Bruce Stambaugh

When the fire pagers sound, Gale Hershberger listens up.

She’s not a firefighter, but over the years, many volunteer first responders have been glad to see her show up at a working fire.

Hershberger, 50, has been president of the Winesburg Volunteer Fire Department auxiliary for longer than she cares to remember. It’s actually been 25 years. She and a dozen other women make sure tired, thirsty, hungry and sweaty firefighters have the necessary nutritional supplies to keep them going.

Hershberger’s husband, Tim, is not a firefighter either. So what got her involved in the auxiliary? It’s her penchant to serve, and her people-person personality that causes her to head for the fire station at 3 a.m. on a cold winter’s night or on the most humid afternoon of the summer.

“I see a need,” Hershberger said, “and I like to help fix it.”

Hershberger said she learned early on the importance of helping others. The Dover native would accompany her mother volunteering at their church.

“I like to think that I am observant of what goes on around me,” she said. “I like to be here to help people.”

Indeed, that is exactly what Hershberger has done throughout her life.

For 18 years, she has worked as a teacher’s aide in the East Holmes Local School District. In addition to the fire department Serve them she has. Aside from the fire department auxiliary and the 4-H involvement, Hershberger is also a board member for the Holmes County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Hershberger sees that as natural fit for her and her fire department involvement.

“We were called to the Glenwood apartment fire in Millersburg with the auxiliary,” she explained. “Our first concern was providing for the needs of the firefighters, handing out water, Gatorade and snacks.”

Once the fire died down and the mop-up began, Hershberger automatically switched into the Red Cross mode and began assisting the fire victims. That’s just how she is.

“I feel I don’t do that much,” Hershberger said modestly. “There are people who work at much bigger, better things than me.”

But her efforts don’t go unnoticed. The volunteer firefighters have come to know that if Winesburg is on scene, the auxiliary and the needs they fill will be there, too.

“If the guys go, we go,” Hershberger said simply.

Hershberger received the 2009 4-H Alumni of the Year award. And recently she received a cute card of appreciation from a 4-H’er that meant a lot to her.

Hershberger also co-coordinates the Red Cross blood drive at Winesburg six times a year. The campaign is held in the Zion Reformed Church annex across the street from the fire station.

Like most volunteer fire departments, Winesburg (Paint Township) has its share of fundraisers. Of course, Hershberger can be found in the middle of all the efforts, whether it’s a chicken barbeque, auction, soup and salad supper, or pancake and sausage breakfast.

Hershberger said that over the years the auxiliary has been able to purchase the Jaws of Life, a heart monitor and new tables with money raised from fundraisers. Just ticking off that list brought a smile of satisfaction to Hershberger’s face.

Given what she has done with working for others, that smile may have been a peek inside her heart.

This story appeared in the Holmes Bargain Hunter.

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How social networking works

By Bruce Stambaugh

A siren woke me from my deep sleep. Even though I didn’t see it, the quickened rumble told me it was a fire truck.

I arose, and soon a second fire truck went by heading south, lights flashing in the dense morning fog. Several minutes later, a third fire truck from a station 12 miles away roared by. It was obvious there was a big fire somewhere.

Of course, I was curious about the location of the blaze. My curiosity was soon cured. My wife announced that our daughter in Virginia had emailed to ask what we knew about the fire at Martins Creek Mennonite Church.

I was stunned. I asked how Carrie knew about the fire. “She saw it on Kim Kellogg’s Facebook page” came the swift answer.

Since Kim is a mutual friend, both in real life and on Facebook, I immediately went to my Facebook page, clicked on Kim’s posting, and sure enough, there were pictures of the old church burning and the firefighters working diligently to extinguish the flames.

The scene saddened me. I could see that the blaze was serious, and I knew that the historic structure was a tinderbox.

I kept up with the progress of the fire by following Kim’s postings. I was glad our daughter had let us know. I was appreciative of Kim’s timely updates. It had to be hard on him. It was his church.

But I also had to simultaneously absorb the bang-bang way in which we had found out about the blaze. Our daughter, 350 miles away, had notified us electronically of a fire less than three miles from our house.

An ironic pall clouded my thoughts. It wasn’t that it was wrong. But there was a certain ambivalence to the entire process. It felt like the same uncertainty that had kept me from originally joining the social network craze.

What I was experiencing was one of the new ways to communicate in today’s technologically driven world. I had long resisted enrolling in any of the online social networks like Facebook or MySpace. I thought they were mainly for young people. I don’t text either.

I also thought they would be too intrusive into my life, would reveal too much information that would and could be used by unscrupulous schemers. Neither did I see the sense in it. After all, all one had to do was pick up the phone and call, or email, or even write a letter, or better yet, come over and visit.

What made me change my mind? Why my sociable daughter of course. Once I realized that I was missing postings of the latest happenings with her and her family, I decided to open my own Facebook account so I could keep up with the grandkids.

I soon learned that I wasn’t the only old person on Facebook. And when friends, relatives and former students from long past began to connect with me, I felt better about the whole idea of sharing on the Internet. I still try to be both careful and practical with what I post for others to read and view.

That morning’s emotional events still seem surreal. Our daughter in Virginia knew about the fire close to us before we did. But therein lies the justification for social networking. It’s just another method for staying in touch.

Even in catastrophes like fires, social networking can instantaneously bring geographically separated people together. When used properly, that is a very good thing.

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