Reach Out to the Less Fortunate

09ReachOut1Ahhh...Is that a sigh of relief? The year is almost over, and you can be proud of all that you have accomplished to promote your EMS service and support your community this year.

Unfortunately, not everyone looks forward to the holidays. In fact, many people are lonely during this traditional family time. Some have no families, no homes, no money and no resources to buy gifts or cook a festive meal.

arrow redOrganize your medics to feed the homeless

arrow redCollect and deliver Toys for Tots

arrow redOpen your station doors to someone who needs a meal or a shower

arrow redBring some cheer to the ill and elderly at a local nursing home

arrow redHost a holiday fundraiser for your favorite cause

Remember, too, that some of your colleagues also may struggle with added financial pressure during the holidays. If you can, help one another with donations of food and/or gift cards. No gift is too small to brighten someone's day.

Being a Foster Parent Makes the Holidays Bright for This EMT

Christmas is one of the reasons that EMT Kory Alexander loves being a foster parent. "I love to see the look on their faces during holidays. They'll tell me, 'I've never had a Christmas like this before,'" he said.

Alexander is no ordinary foster parent. He is the 2007 Missouri Foster Parent of the Year and holds two jobs—as a juvenile officer and as an EMT supply clerk for Abbott EMS in St. Louis, Missouri.

09ReachOut3Alexander was only 22 when he became a foster parent for the first time. "I was working in a children's home, and one of the residents got into it with the staff," he said. "He had an asthma attack as a result, so after I treated him, we sat and talked about why he was so angry. I asked him if it would be better if I took him home with me."

In 14 years, Alexander has opened his home to 20 foster teenagers, has adopted three of them and has guardianship over two. "[Teenagers] are the hardest to find homes for," Alexander said. "You're not only dealing with the kid's attitude, you're dealing with their past as well."

As both a police officer and EMT, Alexander has seen firsthand how kids who are neglected end up on the streets. That's why he will continue to foster children as long as there are children who need him, he said, noting that he is not alone among his EMS colleagues.

"One co-worker I know is in the process of becoming a foster parent along with his wife, and a woman in the field already has two foster children," said Alexander.

By now, many of Alexander's foster children have reached adulthood. Some have moved away, but they call Alexander frequently for advice and to catch up. "I have foster kids dropping in all day on Christmas," Alexander said. "I never used to celebrate the holidays. Now, I can't wait for them."

It's A Fact: Too Many Americans Are Homeless

09ReachOut2arrow redApproximately 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year.

arrow redIn 2003, children under the age of 18 accounted for 39 percent of the homeless population; 42 percent of these were under the age of five.

arrow redAn average of 16 percent of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.

Source: National Coalition for the Homeless

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