Selma church recognizes law enforcement and first responders

TAB Media photo

Selma church recognizes law enforcement and first responders

By Megan Harris
TAB Media

Northside Baptist Church in Selma recently hosted the fifth annual Law Enforcement and First Responders Appreciation Day. Responders from the sheriff’s department, police, firefighters, state troopers, EMS and volunteer fire association in Dallas County attended the Jan. 28 event.

Kathy Smith, organizer and Woman’s Missionary Union director for West Central Baptist Association and Northside Baptist, said, “It’s my job just to love on them.”

Dallas County Sheriff Michael Granthum explained how important the event is to the community.

“Just to be recognized” means a lot to him and the officers he works with, Granthum said. “For people to recognize them and just show their appreciation … it goes a long way.”

A ‘much needed’ event

Granthum said he also enjoyed the opportunity to gather together. Having a time of fellowship over a meal and conversation allows the responders to connect beyond interactions during work hours.

Captain J.T. Cole agreed that events like this are “much needed.” The media often show the negative side, he said, so they have to work to build trust and show they care.

But their job isn’t just handcuffs and arrests, Cole noted, saying the priority is “connecting to the people in the community on all levels.”

More than 70 local businesses sponsor the event, and volunteers from at least 10 churches helped serve this year. Children from nearby schools and churches made cards and signs to encourage the first responders.

‘Kindness in a storm’

When they arrived, first responders went to prayer rooms with a chaplain from Alabama Baptist
Disaster Relief. The chaplains blessed the food and prayed over the officers for safety. Then the first responders were served a homemade meal before attending the awards program.

Describing their work as “the kindness in a storm,” Lee Tate, associational mission strategist for West Central Baptist Association, thanked them for coming into difficult situations and bringing calm to people’s darkest moments.

The event concluded with a ceremony for “Hero of the Year,” presented to one dedicated individual in each of the six responder groups.

Department heads, six award recipients and other leaders also received gift baskets, and stuffed animals were collected for the responders to distribute to children during home visits.