Haines City Fire Departments Served Homemade Lunch by Local Volunteers
by James Coulter
Fire Chief Jeff Davidson has been working for the Haines City Fire Department for two and a half years. Throughout his career, being able to serve people in need has been his biggest motivation in waking up in the morning and performing his duty.
Whether it’s assisting a resident with an emergency call or simply volunteering for a community event, Chief Davidson considers it a privilege to serve his town through his position at the city fire department.
“Our biggest satisfaction and what motivates me is being able to help people in need, being able to bring normalcy back to a bad situation when they call 911 or even in a non-emergency situation, that we can help the community and be able to give back,” Chief Davidson said. “That is the most satisfying part of the job.”
As someone who has assisted his community, he appreciates when his community assists them back. Such was the case last Friday when he and his fellow fire fighters were served a homemade lunch by local volunteers.
Melanie Brown Culpepper, owner and founder of the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation, delivered several dozen homemade meals as prepared by Freedom Church in Lake Wales. The meals consisted of baked lasagna with several other fixings, brownies, and sports drinks.
“It was a blessing to have Melanie and her Foundation come and enjoy a meal with us,” Chief Davidson said. “We appreciate her taking time out of her day to recognize the hard work the brave men and women of the fire department offers.”
Deputy Chief Tom Murphy has been working at the department for three years. Aside from enjoying a good, old-fashioned homemade meal, also appreciated being honored for his service by being served by someone from the local community.
“That was very special,” he said. As to what motivates him in his career, he replied: “The fire services is a great career, it is the best in the world, and one of the things you do to help people. But to make the department better when you leave than it was when you come in is the truly great part about this job.”
Melanie Brown Culpepper made her delivery with several other volunteers as part of First Friday, when she delivers homemade meals to fire fighters and other responders on the first Friday of the month.
Melanie started the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation to help give back to local first responders and other fire rescue service members. The foundation was started in memory of her late fiancée, Michael Culpepper, who passed away from heart failure.
First responders from the Winter Haven Fire Department arrived to attend to his time of need. While they were unable to save him from his cardiac arrest, Melanie nevertheless remains grateful for their service.
“They make it, I take it,” Melanie said. “I want to thank you all for everything you do. I never knew what you all went through until that day, and I personally do not wish that on you all because I don’t know how you all do it but I pray for you and honor you.”
She started her foundation to support them and to provide defibrillators throughout Winter Haven. She has already raised proceeds through “Walking For a Heart”, hosted earlier this February in Winter Haven. She will be hosting the upcoming “Fishing for a Heart” tournament on Sat., June 12 at Lake Shipp. (For more info, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/honoringculpepper/)
Jane Waters, Haines City CRA Project Manager, and a close friend of Melanie’s, helped assist with the deliveries that day. She commended Melanie for her efforts, and likewise commended the efforts of the fire department.
“The work she has done is amazing,” Waters said. “She raises money for supplies for first responders, and she is giving money to the Polk State College foundation for first responders so they can [have medical equipment] and all those [other] things we need on the street.”
The meals were prepared by Freedom Church in Lake Wales, headed by Pastor Bobby Williams. Melanie mentioned how they always prepare whatever food she requires, claiming how: “They make it, I take it.”
Pastor Williams wrote a hand-written note to the first responders and fire fighters, commending them for their service to their community by fulfilling their duty.
“We would like to thank you all for your heroic services,” he wrote. “You are awesome and amazing people. As you go out and put your lives out for others, we greatly appreciate all that you do. We pray a hedge of protection against each and every one of you at all times.”