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Chamber luncheon proceeds go to help local first responders

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | December 16, 2020 1:00 AM

Fire Station 4 is usually one of the launching points for first responders to help the Kootenai County community in times of need. But on an icy Monday morning outside the Atlas Road firehouse, it was the community that provided Kootenai County first responders and their families a little rescue.

“I’m just thrilled we could be here for this,” Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber CEO Derrell Hartwick said. “These police officers and firefighters give so much to the community, and we’re proud to be able to give something back.”

The Regional Chamber presented the Kootenai County Police and Fire Memorial Foundation a check for $3,000 Monday, funds that will go to help first responders and their families in times of need. Fire Station 4 captain and PCPFMF president Tom Hiltenbrand said donations like the chamber’s will help support those that serve our community in times of need.

“These funds have traditionally gone to anything from scholarships to unforeseen medical expenses,” Hiltenbrand said. “They’ve gone to help with those little investments that aren’t always expected but end up making a world of difference.”

Hiltenbrand said those little investments have covered everything from establishing community grants to helping first responders rehabilitating from injuries manage the winter months with the help of a snowblower. Steve Casey, who was on hand when the foundation was originally established in 2005, said community support has helped the foundation evolve over the past 15 years to help first responders with new and innovative solutions.

“I think we’re much more capable now of helping a lot of different people in different ways,” the foundation vice president told The Press. “We focused before on injury and so on when we initiated this. But now, with the help of the community, we’re able to go out and initiate a lot of different things. And that makes us feel really good.”

“I’m so proud to be part of this,” said Regional Chamber chair Ann Thomas, who joined Hartwick, Hiltenbrand and other local first responders for the Monday event. “The memorial foundation has always been a way to help give back to the people who give everything to keep us safe.”

The $3,000 was the result of the chamber’s public safety awards luncheon on September 23, which went to honor outstanding first responders in the community. Hartwick said it was only fitting to continue honoring first responders with the donation.

“With the public safety award luncheon, we wanted to make sure that a lot of the proceeds went to first responders and all of our local heroes,” Hartwick said. “We were able to come up with a $3,000 check to present to them for, obviously, everything they do to our community.”