Photo credit: Lon Slepicka, Firehouse.Com News
Ten deserving young people were awarded $5,000 in scholarship money. Another $5,000 will go to their department's Junior Firefighter Program.
The NVFC teamed up with the Dunkin' Brands Community Foundation to make the awards possible. In total, the program has awarded $100,000, thanks to support from the foundation.
"Throughout the country, Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins stores are great supporters of the fire departments that protect our communities," said Paul Leech, co-chair of the Dunkin' Brands Community Foundation.
NVFC Executive Director Heather Schafer said it's been a great year for the program, which encourages young people to give back to their community and learn about the business of firefighting by volunteering at their local department.
"We have experienced such tremendous success," Schafer said. "We received, in our first year, hundreds of applications for the scholarship and grant portion of the program. It's been a wonderful experience meeting all of these worthy individuals who are so deserving of these scholarships."
"There are just so many different things you need to know about being a firefighter," said scholarship winner Elias Klar of Juda Community Fire Department in Wisconsin. "You can't just watch to learn it, you have to do it."
Steven Reeves, of Theodosia Area Volunteer Fire Department in Missouri said the Junior Firefighter program has helped him learn responsibility and leadership.
Reeves was his department's first junior firefighter recruit, and has recruited most of the departments other junior volunteers himself. He said he plans on volunteering after getting his education at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
Winner Kayla Sulla of Great Neck Alert Fire Company in New York said the program has been instrumental in bringing more women into the world of firefighting.
"When I first joined, there weren't that many, and now we have seven women in our department and almost all of them...came out of the junior firefighters'," she said. "it's definitely helped the girls see you can be in a 'man's world.'"
Chief Victor Fuentes said he's seen Sulla grow within the program.
"I've known her since she was a little girl and it keeps getting better and better. Now she's one of my best in the senior department and I'm proud of all of them."
The NVFC, who launched the Junior Firefighter Program at last year's Firehouse Expo, said they had high hopes for future endeavors.
"We're hopeful to continue the scholarship and grant program again next year, and we just launched a new interactive website and database so that juniors and their fire departments can log information and track their hours of service," said Schafer.
Below is a full list of this year's scholarship winners:
- Natasha Boger, East Gold Hill Volunteer Fire Department (NC)
- Ethan Goodman, Dixon Rural Fire Protection District (MO)
- Elias Klar, Juda Community Fire Department (WI)
- Jennifer Krawetzky, Coventry Volunteer Fire Association (CT)
- Andrew Livingston, Mills River Volunteer Fire and Rescue (NC)
- Brittany Philpott, Johnsonville Volunteer Fire Company (NY)
- Steven Reeves, Theodosia Area Volunteer Fire Department (MO)
- Kayla Sulla, Great Neck Alert Fire Company (NY)
- Kelsey Tripp, Fairview Fire Company (IL)
- Ashley Wilson, Clayton Fire Company No. 1 (DE)