Waccamaw Chapter 89 of the Eastern Star honored first responders during a dinner meeting at the Masonic Lodge in Conway on March 9.
Special coins and certificates were presented to the leaders of Conway and Horry County law enforcement, Fire/Rescue and 911 departments.
Receiving the awards were Sheriff Phillip Thompson, Conway Police Chief Reggie Gosnell, Conway Fire/Rescue Chief Le Hendrick, Horry County Fire Recue Chief Joey Tanner and Renee Hardwick, director of Emergency 911 in Horry County. Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill was not present. Pat Vereen, the chapter’s Associate Conductress, said they would make sure he got the coin and certificate for him and his department.
Making the presentations, Acting Worthy Matron Nancy Herbert said the undertaking, which is named Support Our First Responders, is an idea of the Most Worthy Grand Matron, the highest Eastern Star officer in the country. Other Eastern Star chapters have and will be making presentations in their areas.
The coins, made especially for the project, have been prayed over by the chapter, and are a reminder that the members will continually pray for them and all of the first responders in their departments, who “without question or regard for their own personal safety, protect and save the lives of others,” Herbert said.
“In the shadow of the tumultuous climate in which we live today, their jobs are so much more important and so much more dangerous,” Herbert said. “We want you to know that the Order of the Eastern Star appreciates all of you and we remember you in our prayers. I hope that you will pass along to your brothers and sisters in service the message of our heart-felt gratitude for all you do.”
All of the leaders accepted the coins on behalf of themselves and all of the men and women in their departments and said the fact that they were reminders that people were praying for them made them very special. “This comes from the hearts of those that are praying for us and that makes it very special. For all the people that ride the trucks and ambulances across this county, I accept this.” Tanner said.
Thompson said he had a large collection of this type of coins, but this one was special and would be displayed in front of all the others on his desk because it was the only one that had been prayed over.
Expressing his appreciation, Hendrick said, “It means a lot to me and to my department.”
Gosnell said it was “very kind and thoughtful” of the chapter. “Thank you so much,” he said.
Hardwick said she and other in her department were honored to be involved and to receive the coin.
“We’re behind the scenes and people don’t see us,” Hardwick said, adding that they are not only the lifeline for the people who call them with emergencies; they are also the lifeline for the firstt responders in the streets and in the field. They are not only on the phone talking with the callers, they are on the radios talking with the police officers and firefighters.
“We all know how important 911 is,” Vereen said.
As Herbert presented the coins, she said, “Hopefully, when you look at it you will remember that not only Eastern Star, but the whole community is behind you.”
Peggy Mishoe, firstname.lastname@example.org, 365-3885.