Spring Hill, Tennessee—Forty youth and their families from West Chicago’s Austin neighborhood braved the winter weather on Saturday, October 15, to attend Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) 2North Dakota Annual Chicago-area Fish with a First Responder event in Columbus Park.
Members of Chicago Firefighters Local 2, Chicago Police Sergeants Association, on the 15ththe The District’s CAPS Unit, Community Safety Team and the Chicago K-9 Unit volunteered to teach neighborhood kids how to fish and provided a lunch of grilled hot dogs and hamburgers.
Although the 40-degree temperature may have kept some people away from the free community event, organizers Doug Aller and Sherry Long of New Concept Benefit Group were pleased that it brought together so many neighborhood residents and members of the police and fire departments.
“Our company does financial planning for first responders. We understand that in most cases people in the community only see them during stressful times, maybe the worst day of their lives,” Aller said. “This fishing event is an opportunity to bring community members and first responders together in a fun and positive environment where they can get to know each other on a personal level.”
“Community events like this help break down barriers,” added Jim Calvino, president of the Chicago Police Sergeants Association. “It shows the neighborhood that the police aren’t just there in tough situations, and it allows kids and officers to talk to each other like normal people, like human beings.”
Each boy received a free rod and reel combo courtesy of the USA, and with the help of volunteers, they tried their hand at fishing in the park’s pond, which Fire Fighters Local 2 had stocked with several hundred bluegills prior to the event.
“For a lot of the kids, it was their first exposure to fishing,” said Pat Quane, director of public relations for Local 2. “All of the kids had a great time and hopefully the experience will make a difference in their lives and awaken an interest in the outdoors, so maybe they’ll grab their new fishing pole instead of watching TV or just hanging out.”
Firefighter Tim Fitzgerald, assigned to the Engine 50 Firehouse on the south side of Chicago, also took the opportunity to involve his 13-year-old son, Timothy, as a volunteer.
“Timmy started fishing at a very young age and has a lot of experience for a teenager,” Fitzgerald said. “He helped set up rods and reels and taught the kids how to cast, bait hooks and untangle lines. I think seeing that there are so many kids his age out there who have never had the opportunity to go fishing before was a real eye-opener for him.”
Fish with a First Responder is just one of a series of community events and conservation projects put on through the U.S. conservation program Work Boots on the Ground. Through the program, union members volunteer their time and skills to build key outdoor infrastructure, such as fishing piers, boat ramps, hiking trails, and shooting facilities, in public outdoor recreation areas, but also to introduce people to the outdoors through outreach events like this.
“U.S. mission is to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage,” said U.S. Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell, “and that includes helping people learn how to do outdoor activities, so they can enjoy them for the rest of their lives. it lives.”
Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA): USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to unions whose members hunt, fish, shoot, and volunteer their skills for conservation. America is uniting the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage. For more information visit www.unionsportsmen.org or plug in Facebook, Twitter Y Instagram.
Ground Work Boots (WBG): WBG is America’s flagship conservation program that brings together union members willing to volunteer their time and expertise for conservation projects that enhance and enhance public access to the outdoors, conserve wildlife habitat, they restore America’s parks and mentor youth in the outdoors. The U.S. Work Boots on the Ground program works closely with federal, state, and local agencies and other conservation groups to provide the labor needed to complete critical projects that might otherwise go undone.