With some recent changes and events I’ve struggled a little with my journey and passion for paying forward. You see I’m an all in kind of person, give it, do it, make a difference, call and I’m there drop it for you kind of guy. I’m not bragging, its just I was either raised that way or inherited those traits which I want to make a difference. Long before I started the website/blog I was still doing this, the site just gave me a place to put those ideas down, inspire, share, and encourage others. I knew going into this blogging gig that it had the potential to ruffle feathers or maybe cause a stir (even though its about paying forward and doing good), but it was worth it. As a photojournalist for many years outside of firefighting I pondered every photo and every word often, wondering what might be said about it. The reality is that people are going to talk, so give them something to talk about. Thanks to the wonderful freedoms that we enjoy, the ability for these writings to be almost instantly everywhere online opens the material up to a wide audience.
I found it ironic that a Brother firefighter whom I not only look up to, but inspired me to do more by starting my blog recently wrote a post titled “Value”. Captain Wines of IronFireman.com is someone I have followed since he started writing and I decided to hang out my shingle because of the good I saw his blog doing. We all have our niche in writing and service, if there was one thing that I wanted to do similar it was speak my mind and make a difference for people.
Being a person that believes in signs and a variety of other phenomena I just couldn’t believe my eyes that it popped up on my media feed so I clicked. When I’ve been down or searching, Capt Wines and Rhett over at FireCritic.com have often pushed me with their words so I read on. He nailed it with the last line, “I value waking up. I value the chance to get up every morning and try again. The chance to try to get it right this time…to do the right thing.” He nails it, frequently with his articles and the work that he does. He doesn’t pull too many punches and says what needs to be said.
As I was reading and re-reading the article the morning it came out I pondered my value, and the work that goes into this, paying forward, and helping others. It didn’t take a lot of soul searching, checking text messages from brothers, looking at images with honorees, and remembering where I’ve been to remember my value. Still the pain of comments that were made and cheap shots taken at charities, dedication, and people making a difference burned like fire. I’m not just talking about the being out there and doing the work and making a difference, I’m talking about the promotion and the talking about what we’re doing. I’m far from the first out there to be promoting what we do and more than anything its about talking up the who and why we are out there doing what we do. Its even better when we can inspire others to do the same thing and get more support for the causes and encourage the brotherhood. I’ve got a list a mile long of other bloggers out there in the fire service, specifically those competing and involved with philanthropy and it’s a very positive thing.
Do we inspire other people? I guess I don’t have to look further than my main event every year, the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb, as we hit our 24th year and are represented by 1900 firefighters from 338 departments. Its almost doubled in size and this year we will hit the $10 million dollars raised, so I guess we’ve inspired many to get involved and make a difference. We bring people from all over the United States and several countries and are supported by a backbone of our own every year to make sure that we are successful. Yeah, I would say that the promotion is doing good things. We have a lot of pride in what we do, we watch to push others, inspire, influence, and I know thank the people that back us.
I know the great feeling it is to inspire others, I think we all do because its what we are challenged to do. The first time that I had someone stop me at an event and thank me was a motivation in and of itself. The emails, the messages, and seeing the success stories in and out of the fire service was something I didn’t expect and wasn’t something I was asking for. If I can make the difference in the life of a few and those in turn can go make a difference in a few then we are an unstoppable force. There are many ups and downs with doing this work when you are involved with charities that fight disease or other issues. Sometimes our very own pages and blogs work to inspire those that are already out there doing the same thing. We as a brotherhood lifting each other up and providing some “mutual-aid” when others are down is key.
Maybe what I write and what others and I out here are doing doesn’t fit your persona or reading habits and that’s fine, and I guess that’s why there are so many of us out there doing this because we all have our own views. I read and follow many, but not all because not every writer fits my style. Every day I wake up, look at my mailbox, inbox, feeds, etc and without hesitation know that I am making a difference and it pushes me to do more! As this year winds to a close I look forward to meeting even more of you at upcoming events in 2015 and to continue paying forward.