I've mentioned before that one of the ways I give back to my local community is to lead our county's Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). ARES is organized by the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) and is dedicated to providing communication services between incident sites, county EMA offices, local hospitals, Red Cross emergency shelters and the like. This is especially important for more rural communities where even a moderate sized incident can overwhelm local services. The county ARES lead is called the Emergency Coordinator. County Coordinators report to District Coordinators who in turn report to State, Section and National Coordinators. Operators donate their time and provide their own radio equipment. They also provide their own generators, portable antenna towers, antennas, gasoline and the like.
In addition to drills and exercises to prepare for real emergency events that we hope come never or rarely, we also provide communication services for community non-profit organizations. Anything that is spread out over a large area is right up our alley. Spring is our busy season for these events because the groups who plan outdoor activities want to get them done before it can get hot enough to 'scare' people away. I posted earlier about the Indiana Trail 100 race (Maybe It's Just Me...) . We also do the March of Dimes and Diabetes Walks. Next week is the Pokagon Triathlon that runs out of Pokagon State Park. This week was the "Ride 101 Lakes" bike ride.
The Ride 101 Lakes bike ride is a fundraising function for the local Community Foundation. Some 200+ riders sign up to do one of five different rides from a short Family Ride geared for parents with young kids to a 112 mile ride geared towards diehard riders who have "been there and done that". Intermediate rides are roughly 10 miles, 30 miles, and 60 miles. The bulk of the riders are on the shorter three rides. The youngest riders are less than 10, some by a quite a bit. The oldest riders top 70. It is the ARES team job, working with local EMA and sheriff department personnel to keep all these riders safe. The longest ride covers three states (we are in the NE corner of the state) and a total of five counties. We station team members at critical intersections, Stop And Go (SAG) rest areas, and have a "sweeper" that follows the last rider on each route. The whole thing is coordinated by a central Net Control station that ties it all together. The Net Control Station is also in contact with the event organizers. The last riders often finish after 6PM after a 9AM start, and we look after them the whole time. It makes for a long day, but both the organizers and riders are always very grateful for our care.
I think it important for Christians to serve the community both inside and outside the local Churches. This my way (and several others - five of us belong to the same church) of getting out of the "fortress" and into the community to make a difference.
Enough for one day. I'm bushed and we all need to get up bright and early for the 8:30 service tomorrow. Since to tomorrow is Mother's Day, remember to thank your mothers. If she raised you in a Christian home and "prayed" you though teething, the teenage years, and into your adulthood thank God too. You'll never get a better gift short of the Cross.