- Tuesday, 12 March 2019
- Written by EARL VAUGHAN JR.
Gregory Dickerson spent 21 years in the United States Air Force learning about firefighting and fire inspection. Now, he’s bringing some of that knowledge to Hope Mills as local volunteer.
Dickerson was recently honored by the town as its Volunteer of the Month for a variety of activities, including work with the Hope Mills Community Emergency Rescue Team, serving meals at Hope House, working with neighborhood community watch groups and helping out at the local nursing home.
Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner praised the work of Dickerson and volunteers like him, saying they provide countless hours of work in the community on a regular basis.
“We are so fortunate to have volunteers that donate their time and expertise,’’ Warner said. “Recognizing the Volunteer of the Month is our way of thanking them publicly. Our volunteers share their Hope Mills pride in the work they do.’’
Dickerson feels the most important thing he brought with him from his years in the Air Force was the ability to help people in need, whether they were involved in a vehicle accident or a house fire. “You’re helping people get better or try to limit the damage if they do have a fire,’’ he said.
With both a background in firefighting and a degree in emergency management, Dickerson has used his military experience to lead basic training classes for the Hope Mills community emergency response team. He provides expertise in disaster preparedness, firefighting and rescue techniques.
“It was my way of taking the knowledge I have received over the last 30 years and putting it to use in a small community,’’ Dickerson said. “Every little bit volunteers can do alleviates the town from having to pay extra money, whether it’s having police officers to work overtime or things like traffic control at Hope Mills Lake.’’
At last year’s lake celebrations, Dickerson and other volunteers worked with a Hope Mills police officer to provide traffic control. The volunteers saved the town the extra cost of putting additional police officers to work. “That’s one of the ways we can give back,’’ Dickerson said.
Another benefit of volunteer work, Dickerson said, is the volunteer can set his or her own pace and doesn’t have to cope with the stress that can come from having to show up daily for the same job. “The stress level is very minimal as a volunteer,’’ he said. “I don’t have to do it today if I don’t feel like it, but if there’s a need, I do it.’’
Another area where Dickerson’s expertise is valuable is in his work with the Red Cross to inspect and install smoke alarms in private homes.
“We work hand-in-hand with the Red Cross in Hope Mills,’’ he said.
A major push is coming in the months ahead to install smoke alarms in neighborhoods that show a history of fire risk. May 4, Dickerson and other volunteers working with the Red Cross will install some 1,000 alarms in Lafayette Village off Hope Mills Road.
Fire prevention and safety aren’t Dickerson’s only volunteer activities. As a lifetime member of the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Dickerson regularly spends time at local nursing homes.
“One day I may be in that nursing home,’’ Dickerson said. “I want someone to come and see me. I don’t want to be left alone.’’
He sees the nursing home visits, as well as working with neighborhood watch groups and serving meals at Hope House, as different ways of giving back to the community.
He views the watch groups as a way to stop trouble before it gets a chance to start. “We try to help each other out and be good neighbors,’’ he said.
Dickerson estimates he volunteered about 303 hours total last year. He’d like to get some younger people involved in the volunteer program in Hope Mills.
“It helps you through your high school days, maybe even (in) getting scholarships for college,’’ he said.
He’d like to see the volunteer program in Hope Mills grow and resemble one in Plymouth, a small town in the northeastern part of the state that he visited recently for the annual North Carolina Community Emergency Response Team Conference.
Dickerson said Plymouth has about 4,000 citizens and they seem to almost work as a unit when it comes to volunteering. “When they need something, they work together,’’ he said. “You see a sense of achievement. It was made better by the amount of people that put effort into it.’’
Dickerson has found a simple goal in volunteering that works for him and that he suggests others try. “Enjoy what you’re doing, whether you’re paid or unpaid,’’ he said. “Try to get satisfied doing it.’’
Photo: Gregory Dickerson estimates he volunteered about 303 hours total last year.
- Monday, 04 March 2019
- Written by Stephanie Crider
For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.
• Board of Commissioners Saturday, March 9, 8 a.m., Camp Rockfish Retreat Center (Budget workshop for fiscal year 2019-20)
• Fayetteville-Cumberland County Human Relations Commission Thursday, March 14, 5:30 p.m., Luther Board Room, Town Hall
• Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Senior programs at the Parks and Recreation Center. The Senior programs for people ages 55-plus who are residents of Cumberland County have resumed. The rec center was closed in mid-September after Hurricane Florence. Various activities are now back and are scheduled Monday through Friday throughout the day. For details on times and days, check the schedule at www.townofhopemills.com, call the rec center at 910-426-4109, or email Kasey Ivey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.