It was a telling moment that hit home.
About 30 minutes into the Richmond Hill Lions Club supper honoring first responders last Thursday half the room suddenly emptied as men and women who serve the Richmond Hill community suddenly bolted from the room leaving half eaten dinners on the table.
No one knew what may have happened as EMTs, firefighters and police left to answer a call. The fact it happened two days after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, only added to the drama of the moment.
“When that happened, I saw a lot of compassion in that room,” Richmond Hill police captain Raymond Fowler said.
At its May meeting the Richmond Hill City Council and Mayor Russ Carpenter issued a proclamation declaring May 26 as First Responders Appreciate Day in Richmond Hill joining with the Lions Club to recognize the vital role first responders play in service to the At that time no one in the room had ever heard of Robb Elementary School but there was no question it was in the mind and thoughts of everyone present. Thus, when the call came there was a noticeable air of apprehension.
Fortunately, whatever the situation was that arose it did not have any major consequences and several of the first responders were able to return and finish their meal.
The dinner, headed by Lions Club president Mike Bush, featured U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter (R-1) and Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter among the speakers who made obviously sincere remarks of thanks and appreciation to the first responders as did Bush and Lions Club officer Sharon Brookshire.
Richmond Hill police chief Mitch Shores in turn thanked the Lions Club and the city council for the day of appreciation.
“I tell people it’s different people here,” said Shores who has been policy chief six years after serving on the force in Savannah for 25 years. “The Mayor and Council are very supportive and our guys appreciate it. We’re grateful to them and the Lions Club for doing this.”
Carter noted how as a former mayor of Pooler before being elected to Congress he had a full understanding of the importance of and dedication of first responders in serving their communities.
“These are the people who run to trouble, not from it,” Carter said. “What we need to know as a city is that we have them to help keep us safe. We saw that tonight.
“Thank you for doing this,” Carter told Lions Club members in attendance. “With the climate we find ourselves in this country it’s important we let first responders know we appreciate them.
“They’re who we honor tonight and why it is so important.”
Bush, a retired teacher, touched on what was going on in everyone’s mind, especially when the first responders unhesitatingly left, departing the room in mere seconds.
“It was pure evil,” Bush said of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting. “This is why we need people like them (first responders). Thank God there’s someone out there who’s going to respond to save a life.
“They have a servants’ mentality. They don’t do it for money. They do it for their community. That’s why we honor them for it, so they know how important they are to our community.”
Carpenter too, expressed his thanks and appreciation to those who serve.
“I thank you for a job well done,” Carpenter said. “We don’t have the issues other cities have and I thank you for it.
“It’s definitely encouraging for the Lions Club to do this,” Carpenter said. “It’s another sign the community is behind them 100 percent and it shows our gratitude.”
Brookshire said 45 first responders who were on duty Thursday night were invited while acknowledging not all could leave their posts.
“We’ll make sure dinners (a low country boil) will be taken to them,” Brookshire said. “We can’t say enough about what they do for maintaining the safety of our community.”