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Fireworks - "great community event" - Intern brings life experience & music - Work Camp Resurgence

The Friday Finish – July 5, 2024

Fire Department Fireworks – A Great Community Event

Over 25 years ago, the Red Bird Volunteer Fire Department started a tradition of big time fireworks for the residents living in the Red Bird River valley. Hundreds of community residents come out to the center of Red Bird Mission’s campus bringing outdoor chairs and blankets each year to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day. Fire department members sell hand dipped ice cream, hot dogs and hamburgers in true Fourth of July tradition. Most coming to the display drop a donation in the bucket as they park or walk to find their best spot for viewing.

The display begins at dusk with the firefighters lighting professional fireworks for spectacular pyrotechnic fireballs high above that evoke spontaneous “oohs” and “ahhs” from people of all ages. The celebrations paused during the COVID pandemic and last year due to safety concerns after a close call during the manually lighted show in 2022. An electronic ignition system has now been purchased so that the risk of accident is greatly reduced.

The firehouse was constructed on the Queendale Campus when Red Bird Mission staff were heavily involved in startup, but the fire department is now an independent, community run and funded nonprofit organization. The firefighters work through the year selling ice cream each week and sharing their stories of service to Work Camp volunteers.

Revelle Berry, member of the department, said, “The department barely breaks even financially each year on the fireworks,

but it’s a great community event!” 

And, the smiles on the faces of young and old and the, “Thank you,” comments motivate the first responders to keep working for the next July 4th coming around.ying healthy physically, mentally and spiritually.  


Berea Intern Brings Life Experience and Shares Music

Berea College has a history of bringing students to Red Bird Mission to learn and serve through its nursing, community nonprofit and Appalachian Studies programs over the years, and this summer Red Bird has been blessed with Charity Gilbert fulfilling her senior internship. Charity grew up near Red Bird in the Oneida community about 30 minutes north on Highway 66, and when she was deciding a placement that would strengthen her Appalachian Studies degree, her advisor encouraged her to come to Red Bird.

Tracy Nolan, Red Bird Community Outreach Director, was possibly the first to encourage her to come to Red Bird after she heard Charity sing her original and other Appalachian music at a Berea College event. It was fitting that Charity was placed to work in Community Outreach and Community Health under Tracy’s supervision. Charity has experienced the variety of programs in Outreach from her work on a significant update to the resource referral guide, baby and food pantries, and assisting with the humanitarian hearing clinic. She’s also shared her musical talents at the opening of the farmers market and for some evening concerts at The Cardinal Café.

Although her time was short at Queendale, Charity found herself training volunteers to organize pantries saying,

“It was cool that I was training the volunteers something that I had just learned a couple weeks before.”

Working in the TEFAP pantry has been eye-opening because she was now able to help others that are in the situation she experienced as a child. She said that seeing the need at Red Bird as an outreach worker started a process for her of,

“how do we get people to the next step beyond food relief.” 

After graduation in December, Charity will be pursuing a Master’s in Social Work to be on the front line of helping with mental health and substance use issues.

Spirits and Homes Lifted by Work Camp Resurgence

Red Bird’s Work Camp is still recovering from the lower participation rate experienced during the COVID pandemic, but there are hopeful signs this summer. The number of teams and the size of teams are growing this summer which means that essential community home repair projects are on the rise resulting in healthier home environments for those living in poverty. Critical long-term maintenance issues for Red Bird Mission buildings are also able to be addressed this year.

Staff and community members are also very happy to see a resurgence of youth teams. Not only is the Queendale Campus a little livelier, but the youth are also bringing hope and joy to the community. One example of hope and joy was delivered to the DeWall Senior Center this week by the St Peters United Methodist youth from Ocean City, NJ who visited and shared in the singing of “This Little Light of Mine.”

There’s still plenty of openings for the upcoming months. Group leaders are encouraged to check the calendar online and register your group. Staff are ready to answer questions via email or phone.

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