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Greenville firefighter gives back



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, July 05, 2018 10:3AM

As a firefighter, Willy Brooks of Greenville has seen the devastation that fire can wreak upon families. But this December, he experienced it first hand, when an electrical fire sparked from a wall light and led to a blaze that destroyed his home, only weeks before Christmas.

“You see it happen to others, but you don’t realize the full extent of the impact until it happens to you,” said Brooks in an interview on Monday. 

But compassion quickly followed on the heels of the devastation.

“The next day – even that night, everyone was offering their help,” Brooks said. 

That “everyone” was Brooks’ firefighting brethren. Some from his own department in Greenville, some that he knew from surrounding towns, and some that he had never met before. 

“Clothes, donations, gifts for the kids – their Christmas gifts that we had gotten them had been destroyed. It was incredible.”

New Ipswich Fire Captain James Feldhusen even donned the red suit and beard for the occasion, to give Brooks young children, ages 6, 4 and 2, their presents. 

“We were able to let the kids have a normal Christmas. As normal as it can be living in a hotel room.”

The family was in a hotel room for four months, Brooks said, but have been able to rebuild their home and restart their life. 

There were so many people that helped him and his family during that time, Brooks said, that it’s difficult to thank all of them, though they have tried to reach out to some with letters or personal thank yous. But during a recent Fire Department meeting, he got an opportunity to make a small gesture that showed a fraction of his gratitude.

Each July 3, Greenville calls on its surrounding fire departments to lend their fire trucks – and their blaring sirens – for the Pots and Pans parade. The long-held town tradition has marchers and watchers banging pots and pans while fire trucks and other emergency vehicles and floats make their way down Main Street at midnight, after July 4 festivities and fireworks on the town field.

This year, the Greenville Fire Department suggested that the department provide a barbecue for their fellow fire fighters while they wait for the parade to start.

The first to reach into his pocket was Brooks. He gave $50 to the cause – enough to cover the supplies for the entire barbecue.

“To me, what I did was absolutely nothing. I would have done it no matter what,” Brooks said. “There are so many people that do things that are more deserving than what I did.”

Though he considers it a small gesture, it’s just one of the ways that he can give back to the community that gave so much to him.

“It wasn’t just our department. It was all the local towns around us. Townsend, Mason, New Ipswich. We didn’t even know most of these people. It was pretty amazing.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.